PTSD Stress Can Possibly Lead to AFib

According to the American Heart Association, atrial fibrillation (AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. There are many possible causes for AF such as high blood pressure, lung diseases, or an overactive thyroid gland, but for Veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might be a possible cause of AF.


In a study conducted by the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) to 1,063,973 post-9/11 Veterans who first accessed medical care with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) from October 2001 to November 2014, HRS found that in almost five years, 2,491 veteran patients were diagnosed with AF. The Veterans observed had no prior history of AF or atrial flutter and less than half had pre-existing structural cardiovascular disease prior to developing AF. More importantly, those with AF were much younger than the average patient diagnosed with AF.


The study focused on the relationship between PTSD and new cases of AF. The HRS discovered that a new diagnosis of PTSD in the Veterans was associated with an increased risk for AF diagnosis after adjustment for outside factors such as age, gender, body mass index etc. This suggests that PTSD is connected to AF as a potential risk. Overall, this data helps bring awareness to the seriousness and developing dangers of PTSD in Veterans, especially unsuspecting younger Veterans.


If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, consult a cardiologist to see if you have AFib.   If you do, file your claim for AFib as SECONDARY to PTSD [assuming no direct-causal factors, e.g., severe air pollution].  If in doubt, get your records and schedule a time for us to review your records and have a discussion about how we might be able to help you.

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