Thursday, June 21, 2012

1 in 8 heart patients suffer PTSD

Any life-threatening event can leave a person with symptoms of PTSD. Now a new study finds not only that a heart attack can lead to PTSD but PTSD can double a person's risk of future cardiac events and death. Read on...

One in eight people who suffer a heart attack or other acute coronary event experience clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a meta-analysis of 24 studies led by Columbia University Medical Center researchers. The study also shows that heart patients who suffer PTSD face twice the risk of having another cardiac event or of dying within one to three years, compared with those without PTSD. The findings were published today in the online edition of PLoS ONE:

"While most people think of PTSD as a disorder of combat veterans and sexual assault survivors, it is also quite common among patients who have had a severe coronary event," said lead author Donald Edmondson, PhD, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at CUMC. "Not only are such events life-threatening, but their psychological impact can be devastating and long lasting."

PTSD is an anxiety disorder initiated by exposure to a traumatic event such as combat, disaster, or sexual assault. Common symptoms include nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the event, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Each year, about 1.4 million people in the United States experience an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), a term used to describe any condition brought about by sudden reduced blood flow to the heart. Numerous small studies have suggested that ACS-induced PTSD is common and can have serious health consequences, but its prevalence is not known.

To get a better idea of the scope of the problem, Dr. Edmondson and his colleagues performed the first combined review, or meta-analysis, of clinical studies of ACS-induced PTSD. The 24 studies in the meta-analysis included a total of 2,383 ACS patients from around the globe.

The study found that overall 12 percent, or one in eight, of the patients developed clinically significant PTSD symptoms, with four percent meeting full diagnostic criteria for the disorder.

"Given that some 1.4 million ACS patients are discharged from U.S. hospitals each year, our results suggest that 168,000 patients will develop clinically significant PTSD symptoms. That is quite substantial. However, there is abundant evidence that psychological disorders in heart patients are underrecognized and undertreated. In fact, underdiagnosis may be even more pronounced in cardiac practices than in other types of medical practices," said Dr. Edmondson.

"This is a serious problem for individual patients, as well as for the healthcare system as a whole," he said. "PTSD appears to double a heart patient's risk for a second cardiac event and for death, which adds hundreds of millions of dollars to annual health expenditures."

"Fortunately, there are good treatments for people with PTSD," Dr. Edmondson said. "But first, physicians and patients have to be aware that this is a problem. Family members can also help. We know that social support is a good protective factor against PTSD due to any type of traumatic event."

"The next step is further research to assess whether treatment can reduce ACS-induced PTSD symptoms and reduce the associated risk for ACS recurrence and mortality," said Dr. Edmondson.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Four free PTSD webinars this week

Fearless Nation PTSD Support will be holding four free online webinars this week. The "What is PTSD" sessions will present the latest information about post-traumatic stress disorder and its treatment.

Becoming an expert in PTSD means you feel more "in control" when you understand what is happening in your mind, brain and body. Learn it. Own it. Take Back Your Power!

The webinars will be held on Thursday, June 21, and Friday, June 22, at 10am and 5pm PST.

Space is limited and attendance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Full information can be found here:

Fearless Nation PTSD Support - Invitation To Join

Monday, June 18, 2012

Should PTSD qualify a vet for the Purple Heart?

Source: U.S. Army
The Purple Heart is one of the nation's highest honors, going to U.S. soldiers who have been wounded or killed during combat. But although combat PTSD can leave a veteran disabled, it does not make that person eligible to receive the Purple Heart. 

Should that be changed? Middletown Journal writer Barrie Barber looked at the debate and found a wide range of responses, like these two:

"If it's a true case of PTSD from combat, I think it should be awarded. Sometimes you can't just put a Band-Aid on a wound that's in your head." -- Air Force veteran Thomas Bush Jr.

"The Purple Heart is awarded for a physical wound received while engaged with an enemy force. PTSD is considered an illness and not an injury." -- VFW national spokesperson Joseph E. Davis

Read more:

Purple Hearts for PTSD debated

Friday, June 8, 2012

PTSD on the rise in Mexico

 Rapidly increasing levels of violence in Mexico have brought a "spike" in PTSD rates in that country.

The Inter-Press Service reports:

"This disorder is spreading rapidly in populations like that of the capital and other cities in Mexico, where PTSD levels associated with violence are already high. We find similar patterns: people's stress levels are directly proportional to their exposure to the mass media," which transmit terror and panic, Mauricio Meschoulam, an academic at the Jesuit-run Ibero-American University, told IPS.
Read more:

Mexico's Spiral of Violence Causes Spike in PTSD

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PTSD linked to urinary incontinence in female veterans

A new study finds that female veterans with PTSD have a greater level of urinary incontinence than other women their ages.

This is part of a multi-year study into urinary incontinence (UI) in female veterans. The researchers wrote about the reasons for the study when it was launched in 2009: "Urogenital symptoms, including urinary incontinence and frequency, commonly affect women of reproductive age and negatively impact quality of life. Such urinary symptoms are among the top 10 problems reported to primary care providers by women."

From the abstract of this paper:

This cross-sectional study enrolled women 20 to 52 years of age registered at 2 midwestern US Veterans Affairs Medical Centers or outlying clinics within 5 years preceding study interview. Participants completed a computer-assisted telephone interview assessing urogynecologic, medical, and mental health. Multivariable analyses studied independent associations between stress and urgency UI and depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Nine hundred sixty-eight women mean aged 38.7 ± 8.7 years were included. Of these, 191 (19.7%) reported urgency/mixed UI and 183 (18.9%) stress UI. Post-traumatic stress disorder (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–3.1) but not depression (odds ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.73–2.0) was associated with urgency/mixed UI. Stress UI was not associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

This research does not yet identify a reason for this increased rate, but the paper calls for additional research "to better understand the complex associations between UI and psychologic symptoms and the neurobiologic basis of urgency UI."

Read more:

PTSD linked to urinary incontinence in female veterans

Monday, June 4, 2012

Andy Warhol Museum, Hospital team up to help children with PTSD

The Andy Warhol Museum and Allegheny General Hospital have entered a unique partnership to help children coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Doctors from the hospital's Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents said they are always looking for ways to help their young patients.

"They get stuck on the experience that they've had and they have a hard time getting passed this so they have nightmares and bad dreams," said Dr. Anthony Mannarino. "They are in their math classes trying to concentrate on doing their math, and they have a bad image of their father beating them or their mother getting beaten."

As with soldiers who return from war, children who suffer from PTSD can suffer from other health problems.

"The PTSD that kids have is the same kind that soldiers have coming back but the trauma they experience can be different," Mannarino said.

One of the ways doctors and the Andy Warhol Museum are working together to help patients is by teaching participants how to analyze and interpret facial features. Experts said they use the lessons to help the children with socialization.

"We actually started looking at facial recognition for children with autism because kids who are on the spectrum have a hard time recognizing facial cues. It's one of the reasons they have a hard time socializing," said Andy Warhol Museum curator Tresa Varner.

The therapy also includes a hands-on studio experience that allows the children to create their own portraits through silk screen printing, digital video and animation.

"You can better express some of your feelings through drawings and painting and so forth than you might be able to do so in words," Mannarino said.

Today: 'Bend Not Break - Flexible Thinking and the Healthy Mind'

Fearless Nation PTSD Support founder Colleen Crary, M.A., will give a free online presentation today entitled "Bend Not Break - Flexible Thinking and the Healthy Mind."

The meeting will be held today, June 4, in the virtual world of Second Life at Health Info Island at 11am PST (-8 GMT).

If you have a Second Life account, you can attend the meeting here: