Highlights of VA research on cardiovascular health

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Masthead VA Spotlight

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Facts

Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. It describes conditions ranging from peripheral artery disease and high blood pressure to heart attacks and strokes. It is the number-one killer of Americans and the leading cause of hospitalization in the VA health care system. It is also a major cause of disability. Although there are many different forms of cardiovascular disease, one of the most common forms is a narrowing or a blocking of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. This is called coronary artery disease (CAD) and is the main reason people have heart attacks.

VA Research Spotlight is a monthly roundup of research news on topics affecting Veterans' health. In honor of American Heart Month, our focus is on cardiovascular health. 


VA Research News Briefs 

Heart procedures in VA versus community hospitals

Performing coronary revascularization procedures at community care hospitals that partner with VA have benefits and downsides, according to a VA study. Coronary revascularization refers to procedures to treat artery narrowing or blockage near the heart. One in five elective coronary revascularizations for VA patients was performed at community care sites that were part of the VA Community Care Program. Patients who had percutaneous coronary interventions at community-based medical centers had shorter travel distances than their peers who had the procedure at VA hospitals. However, community care patients had higher mortality and higher costs than VA hospital patients. The results show that patients should be provided with information to help them pick the health care professionals best for them regardless of location, say the researchers. (

JAMA Cardiology, Jan. 3, 2018)


VA Research News Briefs

Effect of testosterone on cardiovascular risk remains unclear

Results were mixed on whether treatment for low testosterone in older men improves cardiovascular risk factors, in a study that included several VA researchers. The researchers looked at how testosterone treatment affects cardiovascular risk factors in 788 men age 65 or older. The study was part of a larger series of trials looking at how testosterone therapy affects a number of health outcomes. Testosterone was linked to small reductions in cholesterol and fasting insulin. But testosterone therapy did not affect other cardiovascular risk factors, such as glucose markers, inflammation, or clotting. More large studies are needed to figure out what effect testosterone has on cardiovascular risk, say the researchers. (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dec. 14, 2017) 

cardiac rhythm

VA Research Quarterly Update

PTSD and heart disease can go hand in hand

When most people think of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the first thing that comes to mind is stress. But mental health isn't the only body system that can suffer from the effects of PTSD. Researchers have known for quite some time that prolonged stress can affect multiple organ systems, for example, the cardiovascular system—which consists of the heart and blood vessels. (Spring 2017)


VA Research Currents

MVP data leads to new finding on ‘resistant hypertension’

Using data from the Million Veteran Program, VA researchers found that a blood pressure condition called resistant hypertension can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and kidney failure. (11/28/2017)

marine interns

VA Research Currents

VA scientist mentors pair of former Marines in biomedicine, with goal of creating artificial heart

Dr. Ngan Huang, a biomedical engineer at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, currently has two former Marines interning in her lab, and plans to expand the opportunity to other Veterans. (08/31/2017)

More on cardiovascular health:

Major VA trial helps answer question of which heart bypass method is better

New app will target Veterans in cardiac rehab

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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