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American Heart Association reports Young Adults with PTSD may have a Higher Risk of Stroke in Middle Age
Posted By Clarksville Online News Staff On Saturday, October 26, 2019 @ 4:00 am In News | No Comments
Dallas, TX – According to new research published in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, Young adults who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be more likely to experience a transient ischemic attack  (TIA) or major stroke  event by middle age, raising the risk as much as other better-known risk factors .
“Stroke has a devastating impact on young patients and their families, many of whom struggle to cope with long-term disability, depression and economic loss during their most productive years,” said Lindsey Rosman, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.
“Ten to 14% of ischemic strokes  occur in adults ages 18 to 45, and we don’t really have a good understanding of the risk factors for stroke in this age group,” Rosman stated.
While PTSD has previously been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in older adults, this is the first study to demonstrate a link between trauma-induced stress disorders and the risk of TIA and stroke in young and middle-aged adults, an age group that has experienced a striking increase in stroke events over the past decade.
Although this study was conducted solely in veterans, PTSD is a debilitating mental condition that affects nearly 8 million adults in the U.S. and about 30 percent of veterans. People who observe or directly experience a traumatic event such as sexual assault, gun violence/mass shooting, military combat or a natural disaster may develop long-lasting symptoms of anxiety, avoidance, hypervigilance, anger/irritability, flashbacks and nightmares. “PTSD is not just a veteran issue, it’s a serious public health problem,” Rosman said.
Researchers analyzed medical data from more than one million young and middle-aged veterans enrolled in healthcare services provided by the Veterans Health Administration (mostly males, age 18-60, average age of 30, 2 out of 3 white) and had served in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. None had previously experienced a TIA or stroke.
During 13 years of follow-up, 766 veterans had a TIA, and 1,877 had an ischemic stroke.
Researchers also found:
“Clinicians should be aware that mental health conditions such as PTSD are increasingly prevalent among young people and may have major implications for their risk of stroke,” Rosman said. “Our findings raise important questions about whether early recognition and successful treatment of PTSD can prevent or decrease the likelihood of developing stroke in those exposed to violence, trauma and severe adversity.”
“We need to improve stroke prevention in young adults by developing targeted screening programs and age-appropriate interventions. Addressing mental health issues including PTSD may be an important part of a broader public health initiative to reduce the growing burden of stroke in young people,” Rosman said.
Co-authors are Jason J. Sico, M.D., M.H.S.; Rachel Lampert, M.D.; Allison E. Gaffey, Ph.D.; Christine M. Ramsey, Ph.D.; James Dziura, Ph.D.; Philip W. Chui, M.D.; Casey E. Cavanagh, Ph.D.; Cynthia Brandt, M.D., M.P.H.; Sally Haskell, M.D.; and Matthew M. Burg, Ph.D. Author disclosures are in the manuscript.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.
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URL to article: https://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2019/10/26/american-heart-association-reports-young-adults-with-ptsd-may-have-a-higher-risk-of-stroke-in-middle-age/
URLs in this post:
 transient ischemic attack: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke/tia-transient-ischemic-attack
 risk factors: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-risk-factors
 ischemic strokes: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke/ischemic-stroke-clots
 diabetes: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/about-diabetes
 Image: http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/cols/www/delivery/ck.php?n=aa8e5b9a&cb=710153105
 manuscript: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.026854
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