Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PTSD Linked to Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may face an increased risk of developing heart disease, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Cardiology. Six hundred thirty-seven veterans without known coronary artery disease underwent coronary artery calcium scanning for clinical indications, and presence of PTSD was evaluated. In subjects with PTSD, coronary artery calcium was more prevalent than in the non-PTSD cohort and their scores were significantly higher in each Framingham risk score category compared to the non-PTSD group.

Two and a half years ago, Psychiatric News reported on a similar study in which PTSD was linked to an increased risk of dying relatively young of heart disease among U.S. Army Vietnam War-era veterans. That study was based on data collected in 1985 and 1986 from a sample of 4,328 men who served in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1971. Included in the sample were 2,409 individuals who were sent to Vietnam.

Veterans in the subsample were given electrocardiograms, and blood-pressure readings and cardiovascular-medication use were used to screen out borderline heart disease cases. All veterans were assessed for PTSD diagnostic and symptom status.

By the completion of follow-up in 2000, 52 of the veterans in the total sample had died of a heart attack, chronic ischemic heart disease, atherosclerotic disease, hypertensive heart disease, or heart failure. Having a diagnosis of PTSD at baseline, such as having a positive D-PTSD case definition, doubled the risk of death from early onset heart disease at follow-up, according to the 2008 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine (July 2008). For more information, see Psychiatric News, see http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/43/22/18.1.full.


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