Objective: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk for cardiometabolic disease. Clinically meaningful PTSD improvement is associated with a lower risk for diabetes, but it is not known if similar associations exist for incident hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and clinically relevant weight loss (i.e., ≥5% loss). Method: Medical record data from Veterans Health Affairs patients with clinic encounters between fiscal year (FY) 2008 to 2015 were used to identify patients with worsening or no PTSD improvement (i.e., PTSD checklist (PCL) score decrease <10), small (10-19 point PCL decrease), and large (≥20 point PCL decrease) PTSD improvement. To estimate the association between degree of PTSD improvement and incident hypertension (n = 979), incident hyperlipidemia (n = 1,139) and incident ≥5% weight loss (1,330), we computed Cox proportional hazard models, controlling for confounding using inverse probability of exposure weighting (IPEW). Results: Overall, patients were about 40 years of age, 80% male and 65% White. Worsening or no PCL change occurred in about 60%, small improvement in 20%, and large improvement in 20%. After weighting data, compared with worsening or no change, both small and large PTSD improvements were associated, albeit not significantly, with lower risks for hypertension (HR = 0.68; 95% confidence interval, CI [0.46, 1.01] and HR = 0.79; 95% CI [0.53, 1.18], respectively). In weighted data, PTSD improvement was not associated with incident hyperlipidemia or ≥5% weight loss. Conclusions: We observed limited evidence for an association between PTSD improvement and decreased hypertension risk. PCL decreases were not associated with hyperlipidemia or ≥5% weight loss. Further studies that measure potential physical health benefits of change in specific PTSD symptoms are needed.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder