Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to have metabolic syndrome than veterans without PTSD. New research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine has shown that after controlling for other factors such as depression or substance abuse, there is a significant association between metabolic syndrome and PTSD.
Metabolic syndrome is composed of a cluster of clinical signs including obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. It has been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Any traumatic event or series of events can cause PTSD. According to the UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), up to 30% of people who have experienced a traumatic event may go on to develop PTSD and it may affect about 8% of people at some point in their lives.
Pia Heppner, of the Veterans Affairs of San Diego, VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health (CESAMH) and the University of California San Diego, with a team of researchers from the VA, analyzed clinical data from 253 male and female veterans. They found that those with a higher severity of PTSD were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome. Dr. Heppner said, "This line of research suggests that stress and post-stress responses are related to long-term health outcomes. Studies show that veterans, prisoners of war and individuals exposed to severe trauma have higher rates of physical morbidity and mortality and increased health care utilization. Our findings suggest that metabolic syndrome provides a useful framework for assessing and describing the physical burden of PTSD and can be used prospectively to evaluate health risks that may be associated with combat exposure and PTSD."
Notes to Editors
1. The Association of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Metabolic Syndrome: A Study of Increased Health Risk in Veterans
Pia S Heppner, Eric F Crawford, Uzair A Haji, Niloofar Afari, Richard L Hauger, Boris A Dashevsky, Paul S Horn, Sarah E Nunnink and Dewleen G Baker
BMC Medicine (in press)
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