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Active duty is rotting soldiers' hearts, study says
(Reuters Health) - U.S. soldiers are more likely to have poor heart health than civilians of similar ages, a new study finds.
Comparing more than 263,000 active duty Army personnel to nearly 5,000 civilians, researchers found that soldiers were more likely to have high blood pressure and just as likely to have a higher than ideal body mass index (BMI), according to the report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"We were surprised by the results," said lead author Loryana Vie, senior project director of a long-term collaboration between the U.S. Army and the University of Pennsylvania. "They were contrary to what we were expecting going into the study because of the Army's health screening and emphasis on physical fitness."
Ultimately, Vie said, the take-home message isn't just that soldiers have worse heart health than civilians, but rather that there is "so much room for improvement for everyone," she said. "There is an opportunity to improve the health of the whole country."
To look at heart health among soldiers and civilians, Vie and her colleagues turned to 2012 data from the Army's Periodic Health Assessment, which monitors service members' medical readiness to deploy. They obtained medical records on 263,430 active duty personnel, ages 17 to 64.
Data on the 4,797 civilians came from responses gathered in 2011 and 2012 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
The two groups were evaluated on how well individuals met the ideal on four criteria: current tobacco smoking, BMI, blood pressure and diabetes, which represent four of the seven health factors and behaviors that correspond to the American Heart Association's definition of ideal cardiovascular health. Individuals were rated on each factor as ideal, intermediate or poor, depending on how well they fit the association's criteria.
Overall, a greater proportion of active duty Army personnel met the ideal criteria for smoking and diabetes than civilians, though the difference in smoking was small. The biggest difference between the groups was in blood pressure. Just 30% of soldiers had an ideal blood pressure compared with 55% of civilians.
Although the proportion of soldiers and civilians with ideal BMI was comparable, this was unexpected because of the regular exercise Army personnel get, said the study's senior author Dr. Darwin Labarthe, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The blood pressure and BMI findings are especially concerning because these factors are so much lower at recruitment, Labarthe said. "We need to find out what it is that accelerates the development of high blood pressure and obesity," he said.
The study data don't offer any explanations, Labarthe said. "Stress could be playing a role and looking at that should be part of further investigations," he added. "Diet could be a more direct contributor. All parts of the picture need to be clarified."
There have been hints before now that soldiers might have worse heart health, said Dr. Omar Ali, director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Detroit Medical Center's Heart Hospital. An earlier study, Ali said, found that Army personnel had a 62% higher rate of coronary artery disease than civilians.
Because you can't get in the Army with high blood pressure, "that means their lifestyle or just the nature of being in the Army puts them at risk for higher blood pressure," said Ali, who wasn't involved in the study. "This is a wakeup call for further investigations for two reasons: first we want to make sure health issues are not affecting the readiness of our troops and second we want to find out if they are going to be sicker when they come out of the Army."
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.