PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder, stress-induced cortisol production, heart disease, psychological effects of PTSD, psychological stress, veterans with PTSD, correlation between heart disease and PTSD
A number of links between posttraumatic stress disorder, cortisol, and heart disease have been established, although the final synthesis has yet to be developed. The pure correlation between heart disease and posttraumatic stress disorder has become a standard conclusion. Recent studies have documented this connection between PTSD and heart disease, in that men with PTSD have a higher incidence of heart disease and related symptoms (Kuehn, 2007, p. 799). There is some belief that there may be a reverse causality that men who are susceptible to PTSD, perhaps due to low cortisol levels, are then more at risk for heart disease. There have also been studies which focus on the psychological effects of PTSD as the primary cause.
[...] The subjects will then be subjected to a test intended to cause minor psychological stress, so as not to be too dangerous for the participants, but enough to raise their cortisol levels somewhat. Cortisol levels will be recorded. This first data collection should take place in less than one month total. This same data will be collected again eighteen months later, with the interview questions focused on any heart difficulties to have occurred in the intervening time. Some of the subjects should have experienced new symptoms of heart disease, and we will collect data on whether or not these were reactions to psychological stress or if any subject with recent heart trauma has had a change in recorded cortisol levels. [...]
[...] Assessing military veterans for posttraumatic stress disorder: A guide for primary care clinicians. Journal of the American Academy for Nurse Practicioners 409-413. Rosmond, R. and Björntorf, P. (2000). Journal of Internal Medicine 188-197. Psychiatry in the News (2008). PTSD may damage chidlren's brains. Psychiatric Annals, 227. [...]
[...] Only patients willing to participate will be called upon and they must also volunteer access to their medical records. After the group is vetted and shuffled for double-blind conditions, the first tests can take place, with the following tests concluding 18-20 months later. Data analysis afterwards should take no more than 6 months of time, following which the final report with conclusions will be written. Limitations Due to the nature of veterans' health, there are a number of other additional factors which could come into play. [...]
[...] We will be looking for a correlation between higher numbers in both and at this stage. We will then compare these results with the earlier collection of data on PTSD diagnosis. If there is a consistent correlation between higher levels in and we will measure whether this coincides with those suffering from PTSD. The research will require 3-4 years of total time for implementation. This proposal seeks approval of funds to support researchers over two different one-month intervals in testing subjects, and further funds for the analysis of the data. [...]
[...] Application to Nursing Practice If there is a substantiated link between PTSD, cortisol levels, and heart disease, patients with PTSD in particular must avoid psychological stresses whether or not they have already suffered from heart trauma. However, since the vulnerability to heart disease will be shown to be physical more so than psychological, this may not be enough. It is relevant to our practice to know that these patients are at significantly higher risk and to treat accordingly. Likely, if our findings are borne out, the cause will be both prior damage caused by unusually high cortisol levels during combat and the changed cortisol levels at present which create further danger to the patient. [...]
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