Combat Exposure Increase Likelihood Of High Blood Pressure
A survey of American servicemen and women who reported experiencing multiple combat exposures were more likely to self-report high blood pressure than military members not exposed to combat, according to research reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.
In a new population-based prospective study, researchers analyzed 36,061 service members, including a sub-group of 8,829 deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2003.
After a three-year follow-up, researchers found that:
* Deployed service members who reported multiple combat exposures were 33 percent more likely to self-report high blood pressure than those who did not report combat exposures.
* Those deployed but not exposed to combat were 23 percent less likely to self-report hypertension compared to those not deployed — possibly because deployers are generally healthier than nondeployers.
* Among deployed personnel, non-Hispanic blacks were 97 percent more likely to self-report hypertension than non-Hispanic whites while Hispanics were 50 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to report hypertension.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, in this study was defined through self-report. Persons who, at follow-up, reported being told by a doctor or health professional that they have high blood pressure were classified as having newly reported hypertension if they did not indicate the condition at baseline.
“Deployment with multiple combat exposures appeared to be a unique risk factor for newly reported hypertension,” said Nisara S. Granado, Ph.D., lead author of the study and Epidemiologist at the Department of Defense Center for Deployment Health Research at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, Calif.
When researchers analyzed each type of combat exposure, they found that personally witnessing or being exposed to death due to war or disaster was significantly associated with increased likelihood of newly self-reported hypertension both at single (50 percent) and multiple (43 percent) exposures.
Their research is part of the Millennium Cohort Study, which is the first to prospectively investigate the relationship between military deployments and newly reported high blood pressure in a large young adult population (average age 35), researchers said. The study focuses on long-term health consequences related to deployments in support of the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.