Stress disorders—including PTSD—linked to poor CV outcomes

Stress disorders like PTSD and adjustment disorder were linked to adverse cardiovascular outcomes in a recent BMJ study, Reuters reports, with the greatest CV risk posed in the months directly after a patient is diagnosed with such a condition.

The study, led by Huan Song of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, looked at data from 136,627 individuals diagnosed with PTSD, acute stress reaction, adjustment disorder or other stress-related mental health issues and followed up with the patients for 27 years. Song’s team also tracked the health of 171,314 of the patients’ siblings who weren’t exposed to the same stressful or traumatic events and nearly 1.4 million other controls.

“The large majority of humans are at some point in their lives exposed to trauma or stressful life events, with a significant proportion developing severe psychiatric reactions such as PTSD or adjustment disorder,” Hong told Reuters in an April 19 article. “Medical providers should be aware that these vulnerable populations may suffer heightened risks of various cardiovascular diseases, which calls for enhanced clinical awareness/monitoring and, perhaps, early intervention among patients with recently diagnosed stress-related disorders.”

Song et al. found that among individuals with stress disorders, an average 10.5 people per 1,000 were diagnosed each year with atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, embolisms, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and other CV conditions. In contrast, just 8.4 per 1,000 of siblings and 6.9 per 1,000 of other controls experienced the same.

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