Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent in the U.S., commonly occurring after a traumatic event or situation, such as serving in combat, rape, assault, serious injury or illness, or natural disaster.

An estimated 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives, according to the PTSD Alliance, and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. An estimated 5 percent of Americans—more than 13 million people—have PTSD at any given time, and approximately 8 percent of all U.S. adults will develop PTSD during their lifetime.

PTSD is already known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death. A new literature review (not related to the PTSD Alliance) indicates PTSD also increases an individual’s risk of metabolic syndrome, although how these disorders are linked is not clear.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”

Francesco Bartoli and coauthors from University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, University College London, UK, and San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis and, based on their findings, propose that the increased risk of metabolic syndrome may result from neurological and hormonal responses to chronic stress.

“Metabolic Syndrome in People Suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” was published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

The review is available free on the Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders website at