The effect of reducing posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms on cardiovascular risk: Design and methodology of a randomized clinical trial.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with accelerated progression of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, the underlying pathophysiological pathway has remained elusive and it is unclear whether there is a direct link between PTSD and CHD risk. This paper describes the methods of a randomized controlled trial developed to examine how changes in PTSD symptoms affect CHD disease pathways. One hundred twenty participants with current PTSD and who are free of known CHD will be randomized to receive either an evidence-based treatment for PTSD (Cognitive Processing Therapy; CPT) or a waitlist control (WL). Before and after CPT/WL, participants undergo assessment of CHD risk biomarkers reflecting autonomic nervous system dysregulation, systemic inflammation, and vascular endothelial dysfunction. The primary hypothesis is that individuals who show improvement in PTSD symptoms will show improvement in CHD risk biomarkers, whereas individuals who fail to improve or show worsening PTSD symptoms will have no change or worsening in CHD biomarkers. This study is expected to provide knowledge of the role of both the direct impact of PTSD symptoms on CHD risk pathways and the role of these systems as candidate mechanisms underlying the relationship between PTSD and CHD risk. Further, results will provide guidance on the utility of cognitive therapy as a tool to mitigate the accelerated progression of CHD in PTSD. Clinical Trials Registration:; Unique identifier: NCT02736929.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • LoSavio, ST; Beckham, JC; Wells, SY; Resick, PA; Sherwood, A; Coffman, CJ; Kirby, AC; Beaver, TA; Dennis, MF; Watkins, LL

Published Date

  • March 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 102 /

Start / End Page

  • 106269 -

PubMed ID

  • 33429088

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8009821

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1559-2030

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cct.2021.106269


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States