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PTSD tied to higher risk of an early stroke, according to a massive new study of post-9/11 veterans
(Reuters Health) - Young adults who develop PTSD may be more likely to have a stroke by the time they are middle aged, a study of U.S. veterans suggests.
Researchers followed almost one million young and middle-aged veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade, starting when they were 30 years old, on average, and had no history of stroke. Overall, 29% had been diagnosed with PTSD.
During the study, 766 people had a transient ischemic attack, or brief "mini-stroke," and another 1,877 people had a stroke.
Veterans with PTSD were 61% more likely than others to have a mini-stroke and 36% more likely to have a stroke, the study found.
"This trend is very concerning given the devastating impact stroke has 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 study leader Lindsey Rosman of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.
"Because PTSD is a potentially treatable psychological condition, understanding the relationship between the two conditions may have important implications for improving stroke prevention and treatment in young and middle-aged adults," Rosman said by email.
While PTSD has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in older adults, this is the first study to show a link between trauma-induced stress disorders and the risk of stroke and mini-strokes in young and middle-aged adults, researchers note in the journal Stroke.
Most strokes occur when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain, known as an ischemic stroke. About 10% to 14% of ischemic strokes occur in adults ages 18 to 45, the study team notes.
Most of the veterans in the current study were men, and the majority were white.
There was a stronger link between PTSD and stroke in men than in women.
Even after accounting for behaviors that can raise stroke risk, like smoking, getting little exercise and substance abuse, researchers still found an increased stroke risk associated with PTSD.
While the study focused on PTSD among military veterans, it's possible that people with PTSD from other experiences like natural disasters, gun violence or sexual assault might also have an increased stroke risk, the study authors conclude.
"We don't fully understand how PTSD in young adults increases their risk of developing stroke at an early age, but multiple biological and behavioral pathways are likely involved," Rosman said.
For example, prolonged exposure to intense psychological stress may lead to chronic inflammation that eventually contributes to stroke. Stress is also associated with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet and substance abuse, which may increase risk for early stroke.
With PTSD, people may develop long-lasting symptoms of anxiety, avoidance, hypervigilance, anger, irritability, flashbacks and nightmares. This can happen just as easily for non-combat traumas and may lead to unhealthy behaviors that raise the risk of stroke among civilians, Rosman said.
The study focused on younger veterans, and results might be different for older veterans or other older adults with more traditional risk factors for stroke like heart rhythm disorders or heart failure, the research team notes.
"The causes, characteristics and consequences of stroke for young patients will likely differ from those for the 'typical' stroke patient who is much older and more likely to have other medical conditions," Rosman said. "We can't just apply a one-size fits all strategy to address this problem."
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/31HUjdO Stroke, online October 17, 2019.
‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.