Friday, November 19, 2010

PTSD linked to hardened arteries, heart disease, death

Stress kills, and post-traumatic stress disorder is no exception.

According to research presented earlier this week at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, men and women with PTSD have more calcium buildup in their arteries than people without PTSD. According to a report from CNN's, "Calcium buildup is a hallmark of atherosclerosis (also known as hardening of the arteries), which can lead to heart attacks."

The veterans who did have this calcium buildup were "48 percent more likely to die of any cause during the study and 41 percent more likely to die from heart disease compared to those without PTSD," the study found.

The study was conducted on 637 veterans, and was part of a broader 10-year study that examined 286,000 mostly male vets from conflicts dating as far back as the Korean War. It did not look at non-veterans who might also have been suffering from PTSD.

What causes this calcium buildup? That's still unclear, but the scientists behind the new study said stress could be one factor. Another factor could be not getting enough exercise or other "unhealthy behaviors."

As a conference presentation, this study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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