Vets with PTSD likely heart attack victims - Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation Report
Australian veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to suffer from sleeping problems, heart disease and gastrointestinal issues than those without the condition.
THE findings of the world's most comprehensive study into the medical and psychological health of Vietnam veterans were released on Friday at a PTSD forum in Brisbane.
"It confirms our suspicions that there are clusters of physical symptoms associated with PTSD," said Professor Darrell Crawford, of the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation.
The findings stem from a three-year study conducted by the foundation at a cost of $1.75 million provided by RSL Queensland.
The physical and psychological health of 300 Vietnam vets were evaluated.
"When we compare participants with PTSD to those without, we find a greater risk of nightmares and sleep apnoea, as well as bigger tendency for problems like irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, heart disease and respiratory problems," Prof Crawford said.
The RSL has committed another $5 million for the next phase, which will be a much broader study involving veterans who served after Vietnam.
For Tony Dell, a participant in the Vietnam vets study, it was not until 2008 that he found out he had PTSD.
"I am hoping the results will show why it stuffed up my life for 40 years," Mr Dell said.
"I lost my family, I lost my friends, I got fired from jobs ... I became antisocial, I couldn't sleep and originally I had nightmares."
But his 2008 diagnosis has enabled him to be treated and become aware of his condition.
"Now I know how to manage it and I have got a new lease of life," he said.
"I disenfranchised my kids, especially during the '90s, but they are now my three best friends."
VETERANS WITH PTSD ARE:
* Four times more likely to have had a heart attack
* Twice as prone to stomach ulcers
* More than three times more likely to have acted out their dreams while asleep
* More likely to have constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome
* At greater risk of daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
Read more of the Report here