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Behav Med. 2009 Winter;34(4):125-32. doi: 10.3200/BMED.34.4.125-132.

Hypertension in relation to posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in the US National Comorbidity Survey.

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Center for Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL.


The clinical literature increasingly indicates that cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are more common among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depression also poses a risk for CVD and is often comorbid with PTSD. Research to date has not established whether PTSD is associated with additional CVD risk beyond the risks associated with comorbid depression. The authors examined relationships of lifetime PTSD and depression with high blood pressure in data from the US National Comorbidity Survey. They divided participants into 4 mutually exclusive diagnostic groups: (1) PTSD history and no depression history, (2) PTSD and depression history, (3) depression history and no PTSD history, and (4) no history of mental disorder. Hypertension prevalence was higher for the PTSD, no depression and PTSD plus depression groups compared with the depression only and no mental disorder groups. PTSD appears to be related to hypertension independent of depression. This may partially explain elevated rates of CVD in PTSD patients.

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