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Combat Exposures Can Increase Hypertension Risk

Last Updated: September 15, 2009.

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who experience the stress of combat are at greater risk for developing hypertension than those who deploy but do not experience combat, but at lower hypertension risk than those soldiers who do not deploy at all, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Defense published online Sept. 14 in Hypertension.

TUESDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who experience the stress of combat are at greater risk for developing hypertension than those who deploy but do not experience combat, but at lower hypertension risk than those soldiers who do not deploy at all, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Defense published online Sept. 14 in Hypertension.

Nisara S. Granado, Ph.D., of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, and colleagues analyzed the results from the Millennium Cohort questionnaire completed by active-duty and Reserve/National Guard members in 2001 to 2003 and a follow-up questionnaire in 2004 to 2006. Some 36,061 respondents met the study inclusion criteria, including 8,829 soldiers who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The researchers used logistic regression to estimate the risk of developing new hypertension as the result of deployment and exposure to combat stress.

New hypertension was reported by 6.9 percent of the study cohort between the initial questionnaire and the follow-up. The researchers found that deploying soldiers were less likely to report hypertension than soldiers who did not deploy, but deploying soldiers with combat exposure were more likely to report hypertension compared to deploying soldiers without combat exposure (odds ratio, 1.02 for soldiers with a single combat exposure and 1.33 for soldiers with multiple combat exposures).

"Although military deployers, in general, had a lower incidence of hypertension than non-deployers, deployment with multiple stressful combat exposures appeared to be a unique risk factor for newly reported hypertension," the authors write.

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