PTSD & Risk of Heart Disease

PTSD & Risk of Heart Disease

PTSD & Risk of Heart Disease

You’ve suffered from occasional symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for years, and now you’ve noticed you have minor chest pain and breathing problems. Are you at risk of heart disease? And if so, what’s the relationship with post-traumatic stress disorder? Knowing the causes of both may help in preventing them.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an illness that occurs in some people who have lived through a scary, shocking, or dangerous event. While it’s natural for fear to create numerous split-second changes in our bodies to help protect against danger or evade it (known as “fight-or-flight”), most people who experience trauma can naturally recuperate from early symptoms. Those who don’t recover and struggle with ongoing symptoms may be developing PTSD.

What are the Causes?

You can get PTSD when you experience, see or learn about something involving threatened or actual death, severe injury, or other violations.

PTSD is likely triggered by a complex brew of:

  • Stressful experiences in your life.
  • Inherited psychiatric issues, like family instances of anxiety and depression.
  • Your temperament.
  • How your brain controls the release of chemicals and hormones in your body in reaction to stress.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the top cause of death in America. The term “heart disease” describes numerous kinds of heart conditions. In the United States, the most well-known is coronary artery disease, which can trigger a heart attack. You can significantly lower your chance of heart disease with lifestyle changes and certain medicine depending on your health. According to some reports, nearly one in every four deaths is caused by heart disease.

What are the Causes?

The cause of heart disease depends on which one you have, and there are many different kinds.

For instance, heart disease may be triggered by plaque buildup in blood vessels, leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. It can also be caused by abnormal heartbeats (chest pain, fluttering heartbeats, dizziness), heart defects, diseased heart muscle, heart infection, and heart valve problems. Some of the pain and other symptoms can be treated with ketamine.

PTSD & Risk of Heart Disease

According to a study by the U.S. National Center for PTSD, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Patients with PTSD had double the risk of death from heart disease during a 15-year follow-up period, and each 5-point increase in the PTSD symptom score corresponded with a 20% increase in the risk of heart disease mortality.”

In reviewing a case study by Donald Edmondson, a U.S. National Institutes of Health summary found that “PTSD … has a clear onset after a traumatic event. Therefore, if it is a causal risk factor for CVD, interventions to offset PTSD risk or disrupt its behavioral and physiological sequelae should be prioritized.”

PTSD can also raise heart rate and blood pressure. The National Stroke Association reports that nearly 300,000 stroke survivors get PTSD every year. Symptoms can show within the first year of the stroke or anytime afterward.

How can you prevent PTSD and heart disease?

  • Talk about the trauma with your loved ones.
  • Recognize yourself as a survivor rather than a victim.
  • Find value in positive emotions and laughter.
  • Uncover positive meaning from the trauma.
  • Offer to help someone else in their healing process.
  • Don’t use nicotine-based products.
  • Try and get between 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy) and avoid sugar, alcohol, and processed foods.
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your height. Your body mass index should be 25 or lower.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Manage stress levels.
  • See your medical professional for a yearly physical.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Successfully diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder normally requires first seeing your primary medical professional for a physical examination. If there isn’t a medical cause that can explain your symptoms, mental health professional for a psychological assessment. Diagnosing heart disease involves seeing a cardiologist or another medical professional specializing in heart health. 

Both conditions could require long-term care, which sometimes combines more than one kind of treatment. In the case of PTSD, ongoing psychotherapy is the go-to treatment and may be combined with ketamine therapy to manage symptoms. Treating heart disease may involve medicine, ketamine therapy, lifestyle changes, and, in some instances, surgical intervention.

Final Thoughts

PTSD and heart disease sometimes have a circular relationship, but neither condition should be regarded as something that permanently restricts your life. Symptoms of each can be managed with time and care, allowing you to maintain a mostly normal lifestyle. Ask your healthcare provider about ketamine to treat either one.