PTSD can lead to heart disease

Monday, Aug 11, 2014 9:00 PM
Last updated 11:56 PM
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Post-traumatic stress disorder can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and it is not just combat veterans at risk, doctors said Monday.

Dr. Steven S. Coughlin talks about post-traumatic stress disorder at GRU. The effects of PTSD can have adverse effects on a number of systems that can affect the cardiovascular system, he said.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Dr. Steven S. Coughlin talks about post-traumatic stress disorder at GRU. The effects of PTSD can have adverse effects on a number of systems that can affect the cardiovascular system, he said.
Tom Corwin
Health Reporter
E-mail | 706-823-3213

Dr. Steven S. Coughlin, an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health and a former epidemiologist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, provided an overview of PTSD and the risk of heart disease. The effects of PTSD can have adverse effects on a number of systems that can affect the cardiovascular system, he said.

PTSD can release stress hormones, similar to the “fight or flight response” and much like acute stress, Coughlin said. Patients with PTSD tend to have higher blood pressure levels and heart rates, particularly in response to loud noises or disturbing images, he said.

It can also lead to an increase in cell signals that promote inflammation and an overreaction of the immune system and can increase the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease, Coughlin said. Those with PTSD tend to have higher levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of the good cholesterol that help protect against heart disease, he said.

Studies of veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam find higher levels of heart disease and risk of heart disease. A study of Finnish World War II veterans, for instance, found they were 1.7 times more likely to die from heart disease if they had been wounded or injured in action.

Some of the stress hormones also increase insensitivity to insulin and put people at greater risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, where diabetes, obesity and heart disease seem to interact to worsen health. That already affects about a quarter of the people older than 20 and about 45 percent of people older than 50, Coughlin said. A 2009 study of veterans in South Carolina found that among those with PTSD the severity of their PTSD was an “important indicator” of their risk for metabolic syndrome, he said.

About 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from PTSD and many were not as a result of combat, but accidents or disasters or violence, Coughlin said. That could help explain why firefighters and police officers are also at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Neal Weintraub, the Kupperman Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Science at GRU.

“You’ve got to look beyond the veterans,” he said.

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AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 08/12/14 - 09:59 am
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I could have told you that.

I could have told you that.

TheMentor
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TheMentor 08/13/14 - 08:31 am
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PTSD can lead to heart disease

Just another illness for the Veterans Administration to weasel out of. If you make a claim and cite two experts, the VA will hire 6 experts to refute your testimony.

TheMentor
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TheMentor 08/13/14 - 08:38 am
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The Blue Water Navy is waiting

There is a bill waiting to be brought out of the House of Representatives committee, HR 543 The Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans Act of 2013. this bill is being passed by because of the other scandals involving the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Blue Water Navy Veterans are in need, will you help?
Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to numerous health problems, including non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, prostate cancer, Type II Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other issues. In 1991, legislation was enacted that empowered the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain illnesses "presumptive" to exposure to Agent Orange and enabled Vietnam veterans to receive disability compensation for these related conditions. However, in 2002, the VA limited the law to only those veterans who could provide proof of "boots on the ground" in Vietnam. As a result, veterans who served in the waters off the coast of Vietnam were forced to file individual claims with the VA to restore their benefits, which are then decided on a case-by-case basis. After 40 years the evidence needed for these Veterans to obtain benefits no longer exists.
I urge you, the public, to communicate to Representative Jeff Miller R-FL, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, that HR 543, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013, now has 241 cosponsors. Call Phone: (202) 225-4136.
This is enough for a discharge petition to force it to the House floor. This would be an embarrassing situation to this committee. After 14 years of being disenfranchised by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Blue Water Navy deserves its day on the House floor for a vote.
The estimate is that 36,000 Veterans of the Blue Water Navy are being denied health care today. With the fiasco facing this nation with the deaths of Veterans in care of the DVA, let’s not add to the count.
For more information on exposure and the DVA read A Re-Analysis of Blue Water Navy Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure at www.bluewaternavy.org.

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