Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Coronary Atherosclerosis, and Mortality

      Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk of multiple medical problems including myocardial infarction. However, a direct link between PTSD and atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) has not been made. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) score is an excellent method to detect atherosclerosis. This study investigated the association of PTSD to atherosclerotic CAD and mortality. Six hundred thirty-seven veterans without known CAD (61 ± 9 years of age, 12.2% women) underwent CAC scanning for clinical indications and their psychological health status (PTSD vs non-PTSD) was evaluated. In subjects with PTSD, CAC was more prevalent than in the non-PTSD cohort (76.1% vs 59%, p = 0.001) and their CAC scores were significantly higher in each Framingham risk score category compared to the non-PTSD group. Multivariable generalized linear regression analysis identified PTSD as an independent predictor of presence and extent of atherosclerotic CAD (p <0.01). During a mean follow-up of 42 months, the death rate was higher in the PTSD compared to the non-PTSD group (15, 17.1%, vs 57, 10.4%, p = 0.003). Multivariable survival regression analyses revealed a significant linkage between PTSD and mortality and between CAC and mortality. After adjustment for risk factors, relative risk (RR) of death was 1.48 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03 to 2.91, p = 0.01) in subjects with PTSD and CAC score >0 compared to subjects without PTSD and CAC score equal to 0. With a CAC score equal to 0, risk of death was not different between subjects with and without PTSD (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.67 to 6.82, p = 0.4). Risk of death in each CAC category was higher in subjects with PTSD compared to matched subjects without PTSD (RRs 1.23 for CAC scores 1 to 100, 1.51 for CAC scores 101 to 400, and 1.81 for CAC scores ≥400, p <0.05 for all comparisons). In conclusion, PTSD is associated with presence and severity of coronary atherosclerosis and predicts mortality independent of age, gender, and conventional risk factors.
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      Linked Article

      • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiovascular Disease Link: Time to Identify Specific Pathways and Interventions
        American Journal of CardiologyVol. 108Issue 7
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          Research suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risks for chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and other health conditions.1–6 The study by Ahmadi et al3 published in The American Journal of Cardiology adds to this research. This study, which was based on a sample of 637 veterans, goes beyond previous work; using coronary artery calcium scores, it suggests that PTSD is associated with the presence and severity of coronary atherosclerosis.
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