Skip to content

Andrew S. London

Andrew S. London

Variable military service-related experiences, such as combat exposure, psychiatric disorders (PD), and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), may differentially affect the likelihood of having health care professional-identified high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension).

PURPOSE: Compare the odds of self-reported hypertension among non-combat and combat veterans with and without PD/TBI to non-veterans and each other.

METHODS: We used data from men from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and distinguished: non-veterans (n = 21,076); non-combat veterans with no PD/TBI (n = 3,150); combat veterans with no PD/TBI (n = 1,979); and veterans (combat and non-combat) with PD and/or TBI (n = 805). Multivariable, hierarchical logistic regression models included exogenous demographic, socioeconomic attainment and family structure, health behavior and conditions, and methodological control variables.

RESULTS: One-third of men reported having been told at least once by a medical professional that they had high blood pressure. Bivariate analyses indicated that each veteran group had a higher prevalence of self-reported hypertension than non-veterans (design-based F = 45.2, p<0.001). In the fully adjusted model, no statistically significant differences in the odds of self-reported hypertension were observed between non-veterans and: non-combat veterans without PD/TBI (odds ratio [OR] = 0.92); combat veterans without PD/TBI (OR = 0.87); veterans with PD and/or TBI (OR = 1.35). However, veterans with PD and/or TBI had greater odds of reporting hypertension than both combat and non-combat veterans without PD/TBI (p<0.05).

DISCUSSION: Military service-related experiences were differentially associated with a survey-based measure of hypertension. Specifically, veterans self-reporting PD and/or TBI had significantly higher odds of self-reporting hypertension (i.e., medical provider-identified high blood pressure).