Wentworth BA, Stein MB, Redwine LS, Xue Y, Taub PR, Clopton P, Nayak KR, Maisel AS.
Cardiol Rev. 2012 Jun 20. [Epub ahead of print]
An increasing body of evidence reported in the literature indicates a possible role for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a cause for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, mechanistic evidence on the progression of adverse cardiac outcomes in PTSD is lacking. In this review, we examine the potential paths by which CVD could occur in those with PTSD. Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and autonomic nervous dysfunction are commonly observed in PTSD, which in turn lead to a variety of physiological changes potentially damaging to the heart. Increased inflammation, dysfunction of the vascular endothelium, hypercoagulability, and cardiac hyperreactivity all have been noted in patients with PTSD. Altered neurochemistry, most notably increased arginine vasopressin, as well as an increased prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, may also contribute to adverse cardiac outcomes. While the association between PTSD and physical disease is often complicated by health risk behaviors or comorbid psychiatric conditions, the evidence for a link between PTSD and CVD is substantial. In our examination, we attempt to identify potential cardiac biomarkers that may be useful in detecting increased cardiac risk in PTSD patients. As research in this area is exceedingly limited, we hope to inspire further research, as there is great potential value in identifying prognostically useful cardiac biomarkers so as to predict and prevent the onset of CVD in PTSD patients.