PTSD linked to high risks of heart disease, cancer

In a new study, researchers found post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as the metabolic syndrome.

In the study, the researchers tested 84 individuals diagnosed with PTSD (39 victims of terrorist attacks and 45 victims of other traumatic events) males.

They found these people were more likely to have circulatory and metabolic complications, whereas females had a higher prevalence of benign and malignant cancers.

A longer duration of PTSD was associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, while PTSD following terrorist attacks was associated with a higher cancer prevalence.

An explanation of why victims of terrorism may have a higher cancer prevalence than victims of other traumatic events, such as accidents, maybe the intentional infliction of harm on the victim causing a more dysregulated stress response.

A challenge for the future is monitoring the physical health of victims over time and understanding psychological and neurobiological processes producing this effect.

The team suggests longer untreated PTSD was associated with higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease regardless of the event type.

This shows the importance of early intervention for PTSD and also education programs for the general population to make people aware about PTSD early warning signs and how to recognize them.

One co-author is Dr. Andrea Pozza, of the Santa Maria alle Scotte University Hospital, in Italy.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

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Source: Journal of Neuroscience Research.