Cardiovascular Disease: Another Hidden Cost of War?
The armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan brought new realities to military medicine in the types of battlefield injuries experienced by our soldiers, transitioning from the traditional predominance of penetrating wounds to a high proportion of blast injuries leading to multisystem trauma. Another change was a clear victory- startling success to unprecedented heights in the survival of battlefield casualties resulting from a highly coordinated and rapid escalation of care from the conflict theater to definitive life-saving interventions. As these conflicts now wind down, a reasonable question turns to the long term medical impact to the fighting force to whom we, as a nation, pledge our support in sustaining their care in gratitude for their personal sacrifices. Among injuries exacting a long-term toll, traumatic brain injury has received considerable attention as it should. However, traumatic brain injury's impacts tend to be identifiable and relatively immediately apparent. In contrast, more chronic health conditions arising long after the sounds of war have faded and the physical injuries healed receive less attention as they blur into the fabric of ordinary medical conditions. Yet to fully honor the sacrifice and understand the true human impact of armed conflict, a reasonable question is whether traumatic injuries sustained in combat exact a longer term medical toll.
- Received October 19, 2015.
- Revision received November 3, 2015.
- Accepted November 3, 2015.