New research suggests that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in older adults is significantly associated with development of specific types of vascular disease, including cerebrovascular disease (CVD) and myocardial infarction (MI).
The study, which included more than 135,000 veterans, older than 54 years of age, showed
* Those who had PTSD were 80% more likely to have cerebrovascular disease (CVD) than peers of the same age who did not have PTSD.
* The study also showed that the group with PTSD was 82% more likely to have MI.
* The group with PTSD was 60% more likely to have peripheral vascular disease.
* The group with PTSD was 56% more likely to have congestive heart failure.
The results were reported in MedScape.
Eric Lenze, MD, geriatric psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, told Medscape Medical News, “It adds to a fair amount of data about the long-term pernicious effects of PTSD — not just for suffering and disability but also for long-term health and cognitive function.” Dr. Lenze, who was not involved with this research, is also the research committee chair for the AAGP. He noted that investigators from UCSF recently published “a very high profile” study suggesting that PTSD increases the risk for dementia.
“To me as a geriatric psychiatrist, this [current study] highlights the importance of trying to get good treatment for PTSD at any age. Unfortunately, there’s been a dearth of research investigating how to treat PTSD in older adults,” he said.
He added that what research there has been has suggested that the same type of exposure-based cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that seem to work well in younger adults also work well in those who are older, and they are well tolerated.
However, “it’s my hope that we see more treatment advances in this area because it’s a very tough disorder to treat sometimes,” said Dr. Lenze.
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