Sunday, December 20, 2015
New PTSD news
Risk of death nearly doubled for Vietnam veterans with PTSD
Published December 04, 2015 Reuters
Higher than average death rates among Vietnam War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggest that combat trauma may still be affecting veterans' health even decades after the war, according to a new study.
U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War followed from the 1980s to 2011 were almost twice as likely to die during that period if they had PTSD compared to those without the disorder.
The findings can inform healthcare for Vietnam veterans, now mostly in their 60s and older, and prevention efforts for the next generation of soldiers, the study team writes in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"The study offers really valuable empirical information that can help us better understand how to care for our Vietnam veterans . . . and also more recent veterans," said study author Nida Corry, of Abt Associates in Durham, North Carolina.
PTSD can develop after a person has been through a traumatic event like combat, child abuse or sexual abuse, terrorism attacks and other disasters, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Symptoms can include flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the traumatic events, changes in beliefs and activities and being overly alert, according to the VA.
A study published earlier this year estimated that more than 1 in 10 Vietnam war zone veterans still have PTSD or some symptoms of the disorder (see Reuters Health story of July 22, 2015, here: http://reut.rs/1NsyrVe).
Previous studies have also suggested that Vietnam vets - especially those who served in the war zone - are at increased risk of death, and that the added risk may be related to PTSD. However, those studies were often limited, according to the authors of the current study.
For the current study, the researchers from Abt Associates, New York University in New York City and other organizations analyzed information collected from 1987 to 2011 on nearly 2,400 Vietnam veterans, including 1,632 who served in the combat theater, which included Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.