Washington: In a new study it has been found that veterans with specific mental health disorders like depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder are at an elevated risk of heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular diseases.
The link between mental illness and cardiovascular disease is well established. However, there has been little research and data on which mental health conditions pose the highest risk for cardiovascular disease.
The findings of this new study were published in the Journal 'Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes'.
Researchers assessed veterans at risk for major heart disease and stroke events and death associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis and bipolar disorder.
The analysis included data from more than 1.6 million veterans aged between 45 to 80 who received care in the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system from 2010-2014.
About 45 per cent of the men and 63 per cent of the women had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
When controlling for age, cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol, other mental health conditions and psychiatric medications, both men and women with various mental health diagnoses except post-traumatic stress disorder had a higher risk of cardiovascular events and death over five years.
Additional findings stated that particularly, among men, depression, anxiety, psychosis and bipolar disorder were associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
And, depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder were also linked to cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
Among women, depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder posed a higher cardiovascular disease risk. Psychosis and bipolar disorder also increased the risk of death.
A diagnosis of psychosis, such as schizophrenia, among both men and women posed the strongest risk for heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease.
A PTSD diagnosis among men in the study was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the study population as a whole. This finding differed from some previous studies.
"The bottom line is that when considering a veteran's health care needs, mental health status, especially for more severe mental illnesses, should be taken into consideration when calculating cardiovascular disease risk and considering the appropriate treatment options," said lead author Mary C. Vance, M.D., M.Sc., an employee of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation working as assistant professor of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine.