Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vets With PTSD More Prone to Heart Risk Factors

Young Vets With PTSD Are More Prone
to Heart Risk Factors!!!
Researcher suspects mental health issues may lead
to unhealthy habits...By
Kathleen Doheny, Health Day Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 4 (Health Day News) -- Veterans
of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts who have
mental health problems such as post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) are also at higher risk for
having cardiovascular disease risk factors, a new
study suggests.

While previous studies have found that those
with PTSD, a common mental health problem
among veterans who have seen combat, are at
increased risk of developing and dying from
cardiovascular disease, risk factors for heart
attack and stroke have not been evaluated in
this group, said Dr. Beth E. Cohen, an assistant
professor of medicine at the University of
California San Francisco and staff physician at
the San Francisco VA Medical Center.
Cohen led the study, published in the Aug. 5 issue
of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Our main finding was that vets with mental health
issues -- both PTSD and others -- had a
significantly increased risk of being diagnosed with
a variety of heart disease risk factors," Cohen said.
Cohen and her colleagues looked at national data
from veterans who sought care at VA facilities,
comparing more than 267,000 male vets with
and without mental health diagnoses and nearly
36,000 female vets with and without mental
health issues.

In PTSD, the sufferer "relives" the trauma
via flashbacks or in other ways, such as
becoming hyper-vigilant to everyday sounds.
Other mental health issues seen among vets
include depression, anxiety disorder,
adjustment disorder and alcohol and
substance abuse.

Cohen's team looked at doctors' codes in the
records for cardiovascular risk factors,
including tobacco use, high blood
pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels,
obesity or diabetes. "Because their average
age is 30, they are typically too young to have
already developed heart disease," Cohen said.
"So, we looked at risk factors."
---------------part 2 coming soon------------------
SOURCES: Beth E. Cohen, M.D., assistant professor,
medicine, University of California, San Francisco,
and staff physician, San Francisco VA Medical Center;
Mark Kaplan, Dr.P.H., professor, community health,
Portland State University, Oregon; Aug. 5, 2009,
Journal of the American Medical Association;
Aug. 7, 2009, presentation, American Psychological
Association annual meeting, in Toronto.
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