PTSD could affect veterans’ blood vessel health, increase risks
A recent report in the American Heart Association's Rapid Access Journal suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may reduce blood vessels’ ability to dilate, which could increase the chances of stroke and heart attack among veterans.
Until now, the traditional factors that lead to strokes and heart attacks -- such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol -- have not accounted for the higher risk of heart disease among people who have PTSD.
The results from this study can be used to develop better approaches for managing PTSD. This research can also help address other kinds of stress and how they affect blood vessels.
The study involved veterans with PTSD. Their blood vessels could not expand normally with stimulus, meaning they were not as reactive as the other subjects, who were veterans without PTSD. Having less reactive blood vessels is connected to serious health conditions like heart disease.
“We need to determine better ways we can help people manage PTSD and other types of stress to reduce the negative impact of chronic stress on blood vessels,” Marlene Grenon, lead author of the study, said. “At the Veterans Administration in San Francisco, we are in the process of starting a multidisciplinary vascular rehabilitation clinic to try to better manage traditional and non-traditional risk factors, including stress, to improve cardiovascular health.”
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