Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiovascular Disease

Steven S Coughlin*
Environmental Epidemiology Service, Environmental Health Strategic Healthcare Group, Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA

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Creative Commons License
© Steven S. Coughlin; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Environmental Epidemiology Service (135), Environmental Health Strategic Healthcare Group, Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420, USA; Tel: (202) 266-4656; E-mail


This review provides an up-to-date summary of the evidence from clinical and epidemiologic studies indicating that persons with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have an increased risk of coronary heart disease and possibly thromboembolic stroke. Persons with PTSD, a common anxiety disorder in both veteran and nonveteran populations, have been reported to have an increased risk of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Increased activity of the sympathoadrenal axis may contribute to cardiovascular disease through the effects of catecholamines on the heart, vasculature, and platelet function. Reported links between PTSD and hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors may partly account for reported associations between PTSD and heart disease. The associations observed between PTSD and cardiovascular diseases have implications for cardiology practice and research.

Keywords: Anxiety disorders, coronary heart disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke, veterans..