Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Vets May Increase Risk of Heart Disease

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—which has been a major problem amongst many military men and women returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—is now being linked to an increased risk of heart disease in Vietnam vets. The study out of Emory University Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta and supported by the National Institutes of Health suggests that physical health can be impacted by PTSD.

These findings will likely lead to additional studies on not only veterans of Vietnam but other groups of vets, who are diagnosed with PTSD in order to learn more about the association. The hope is that it would lead to techniques that could aid in preventing and effectively treating heart disease.

The study involved 562 middle-aged twins (majority were identical, the rest were fraternal) from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. The reason for utilizing twins in the study was to control environmental and genetic factors in the development of PTSD and heart disease.

Of the twins diagnosed with PTSD, 22.6 percent had heart disease. This was much higher than the 8.9 percent diagnosed with heart disease who did not have PTSD. It was also found that there were more areas in which blood flood to the heart was reduced in those with PTSD.

It’s suggested that the symptoms of PTSD could trigger abnormalities in heartbeat rhythm, along with increased heart rate and blood pressure. These problems could increase risk of a heart attack.

PTSD affects approximately 7.7 million adults in the United States, according to the news release from NIH. It’s been found that anywhere between 15 and 19 percent of vets developed this condition at some point after the Vietnam War. But it’s also affected vets from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Storm.

Whether it’s PTSD, heart disease or both, monthly benefits could be available through veterans’ disability. Contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group to learn more about your rights to these benefits.