Men and women service members who sustained serious combat injuries or develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be at increased risk for high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a study published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association. This is the first study to find a connection between hypertension and combat injuries – independent of PTSD.
The study involved data on 3,846 U.S. service members who received intensive care for injuries in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars between 2002 and 2011; average age at the time of injury was 26. Researchers found that more than 14 percent of these service members developed high blood pressure at least 90 days after being wounded. According to researchers, for every five-point increase in injury severity, as indicated by the Injury Severity Score, hypertension risk climbed 5 percent.
Compared to service members without a PTSD diagnosis, those with the condition have an 85 percent higher risk for high blood pressure. Earlier research linked PTSD to an increased risk for substance abuse, obesity, heart disease, and suicide as well.