A new federally funded study suggests that post traumatic stress disorder is associated with an increased heart disease risk down the road.
The Emory University researchers recruited volunteers from a database of male twins who served in the Vietnam War in which one twin in the pair had PTSD at some point after the war while the other twin did not. The researchers found that those who had PTSD were more than twice as likely to have developed heart disease during the 13-year study than their twin who never had PTSD. Nearly 23 percent of the PTSD sufferers had a heart attack, hospitalization for a blocked artery, or signs of heart disease on imaging tests compared to 9 percent of those who never had PTSD.
“Our results were similar whether we were comparing fraternal or identical twins, which suggests that genetic factors don’t really play much of a role in this connection,” said study author Dr. Viola Vaccarino, an epidemiologist and internist at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. The study didn’t include women, so it’s not known whether they would experience the same increase in heart risks associated with PTSD.
Researchers still aren’t certain how PTSD would lead to heart problems.