Older men with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk of heart attacks, a new study suggests.
Researchers studied 1002 veterans who had served in the US military, comparing their level of PTSD symptoms in 1990 with whether they developed coronary heart disease (CHD) by 2001.
Authors used a questionnaire to assess PTSD levelsand found themen's average PTSD score was 57, and just 10 men met the diagnosis for PTSD, with a score of 89 or above.
Men scoring in the highest 10 percent for PTSD symptoms had an increased risk for a nonfatal heart attack, fatal CHD, or angina.
And for everynine point increase in PTSD score, the men had a 26 percent increased risk of non-fatal heart attack or fatal CHD combined.
The team concludes that experiencing trauma and prolonged stress may not only contribute to mental health problems but also be cardiotoxic.
Archives of General Psychiatry (2007); 64: 109-116