By Andrew M. Seaman
Posted Dec. 04, 2015
About 16 percent of all Vietnam veterans who were alive in the 1980s are now dead, with most deaths due to cancer and heart disease, the authors estimate.Higher than average death rates among Vietnam War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD suggest that combat trauma may still be affecting veterans’ health even decades after the war, according to a new study.
U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War followed from the 1980s to 2011 were almost twice as likely to die during that period if they had PTSD compared to those without the disorder.
The findings can inform healthcare for Vietnam veterans, now mostly in their 60s and older, and prevention efforts for the next generation of soldiers, the study team writes in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“The study offers really valuable empirical information that can help us better understand how to care for our Vietnam veterans … and also more recent veterans,” said study author Nida Corry, of Abt Associates in Durham, North Carolina.
PTSD can develop after a person has been through a traumatic event like combat, child abuse or sexual abuse, terrorism attacks and other disasters, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Symptoms can include flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the traumatic events, changes in beliefs and activities and being overly alert, according to the VA.
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