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Study: PTSD Linked To Heart Disease In Veterans

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Veterans of the Vietnam War-era who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder were more than twice as likely as their counterparts without PTSD to develop heart disease, according to a new study funded by National Institutes of Health.

Researchers at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health compared the health histories of 562 male twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. They found almost 23 percent of twins diagnosed with PTSD had heart disease, whereas just nine percent of twins without PTSD had heart disease.

Lead researcher Dr. Viola Vaccarino says the study suggests a link between PTSD and heart health:

“For example, repeated emotional triggers during everyday life in persons with PTSD could affect the heart by causing frequent increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and heartbeat rhythm abnormalities that in susceptible individuals could lead to a heart attack.”

Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, director of the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, says the study shows PTSD can affect the physical health of the sufferer:

“Future research to clarify the mechanisms underlying the link between PTSD and heart disease in Vietnam veterans and other groups will help to guide the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies for people with these serious conditions.”

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