Screening for PTSD

For clinicians in the VA and elsewhere, the study provides even more reason to screen for PTSD and to refer patients for treatment.

“Clinicians should be aware that mental health conditions such as PTSD are increasingly prevalent among young people and may have major implications for their risk of stroke,” Rosman said. “Our findings raise important questions about whether early recognition and successful treatment of PTSD can prevent or decrease the likelihood of developing stroke in those exposed to violence, trauma and severe adversity.”

The VA’s National Center for PTSD recommends a number of PTSD and trauma screening tools, including the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5, SPAN, SPRINT, and Trauma Screening Questionnaire.

A new biomarker screening tool developed by Army researchers in conjunction with colleagues at New York University and Harvard University may help even more. The new tool uses 28 biological factors associated with PTSD and is 81% accurate in differentiating between veterans with PTSD and those without it. A clear diagnosis could help get more veterans into treatment for PTSD more quickly and reduce their risk of stroke.3 

“Because PTSD is a potentially treatable psychological condition,” Rosman said, “understanding the relationship between the two conditions may have important implications for improving stroke prevention and treatment in young and middle-aged adults.”

  1. Rosman L, Sico JJ, Lampert R, et al. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Risk for Stroke in Young and Middle-Aged Adults: A 13-Year Cohort Study. Stroke. 2019 Nov;50(11):2996-3003.
  2. Koton S, Sang Y, Schneider AL, et al. Trends in Stroke Incidence Rates in Older US Adults: An Update from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Cohort Study. JAMA Neurol. 30 Sep 2019. Online ahead of print.
  3. Dean, KR, Hammamieh, R, Mellon, SH, et al. Multi-omic biomarker identification and validation for diagnosing warzone-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Mol Psychiatry. 10 Sep 2019. doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0496-z