PTSD Linked to Cardiovascular Disease
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder — an overwhelming number. Studies also show that veterans with PTSD have a high risk for cardiovascular diseases including Hypertension and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).
How does this happen? Chronic symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, intrusive thoughts, avoidance of situations that remind the veteran of traumatic events, being socially detached from family and friends, feeling angry, irritable and “on edge”, or having difficulty concentrating, to name a few. The long-term effects of these symptoms can lead to abnormalities in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA), and the autonomic nervous system. Specifically, these abnormal heart rates and elevated blood pressure can cause arrhythmias and cardiomyopathies. In addition, there is increasing evidence that PTSD can negatively effect lipid metabolism, increasing the risk for atherosclerosis and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).
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