(U.S. Army/ Sgt. Shawn Miller)

(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."

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In this June 9, 2017, photo, soldiers ride a military vehicle on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. (Associated Press/Aaron Favila)

ISIS may have lost its physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but the group is poised for a resurgence in its enclave in the Philippines — and instead of eradicating the terror group once and for all before it facilitates another horrifying attack like the Easter bombings that rocked Sri Lanka, the U.S. military is focused on new plumbing.

At least, that's the takeaway from this fantastic Thomas Gibbons-Neff story in the New York Times on the latest mission for the contingent of U..S. special operations forces that have been assisting the Philippine Army with their campaign against ISIS insurgents over the last two years.

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U.S. Air Force photo.

When people think about U.S. Army equipment, what probably comes to mind are tanks, gunship helicopters, self-propelled artillery, and other larger advanced weapons — all great for blowing things up. However, American troops often rely on a very different gear to both confuse and demoralize enemy troops and “win the hearts and minds” of civilians on and around the battlefield.

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