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Ann Epidemiol. 2006 May;16(5):381-6. Epub 2005 Jul 1.

Risk of selected cardiovascular diseases and posttraumatic stress disorder among former World War II prisoners of war.

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  • 1U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Epidemiology Service, 810 Vermont Ave Washington, DC 20420, USA.



American World War II (WWII) prisoners of war (POWs) suffered both mental and physical deprivation while interned. The long-term health consequences of the internment were studied for an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


This study evaluated healthcare utilization data for 10 years (1991-2000) from Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA healthcare providers for 19,442 former WWII POWs and 9728 non-POW controls. The risk of diseases was approximated by odds ratios adjusted for race and age.


Collectively, former POWs had statistically significant increased risk of PTSD, and those POWs with PTSD also had statistically significant increased risks of cardiovascular diseases including hypertension and chronic ischemic heart disease when compared to both non-POWs and POWs without PTSD.


Among former WWII POWs, risk of cardiovascular disease is related to having PTSD.

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