Severe Combat Injuries Could Increase Risk of Chronic Disease in Veterans

New research published in the American Heart Association’s Circulation medical journal has military officials looking more closely at the long-term repercussions of combat injuries. A study was conducted involving 3,846 U.S. servicemembers who suffered a combat injury in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars requiring intensive care. These servicemembers were assessed based on their Injury Severity Scores (ISS) and their health quality was tracked until they either passed away, left the VA health care system, or until the study period ended.

The ISS system rates injury severity on a scale of 1 to 75, with 75 being a likely un-survivable injury. Researchers found that with every 5-point increase on the ISS, the servicemember’s risk of high blood pressure rose 6 percent, coronary artery disease rose 13 percent, diabetes rose 13 percent, and chronic kidney disease rose 16 percent.

The servicemembers who developed these and other chronic illnesses tended to be older with more overall acute kidney injury. This factor was connected to a 66 percent higher risk of high blood pressure and made developing chronic kidney disease five times more likely.

There are many chronic diseases prevalent among U.S. veterans due to a number of factors. Vietnam-era veterans are prone to diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange, while veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater since 1990 for various operations may have chronic respiratory diseases due to open burn pits. Now, combat injury severity is becoming growing concern for veterans of the latest conflict, as well as combat-injured veterans of past eras, as a predictor of future chronic disease.

Many Chronic Diseases Can Be Connected to Military Service and Qualify Veterans for Disability Benefits

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, cancer, and chronic kidney failure can be connected to a veteran’s military service. Environmental exposures, complications from health care administered in the field, and other factors can contribute to higher rates and risks of these diseases. If you are a veteran suffering from chronic health conditions, call us at 888-886-1211 or contact us online to schedule a consultation regarding your right to veterans’ disability benefits.