Comparing veterans deployed in the first Persian Gulf War and veterans deployed elsewhere at the same time has revealed veterans who served in the Persian Gulf have nearly twice the prevalence of chronic multi-symptom illness (CMI), a cluster of symptoms similar to a set of conditions often called Gulf War Syndrome.
To be diagnosed with CMI, veterans must have had symptoms for more than six months in two or three of the following categories: fatigue; mood symptoms or difficulty thinking; and muscle or joint pain.
However, the study also found CMI in veterans who did not serve in the gulf, suggesting that the Persian Gulf conflict isn't the only trigger for CMI.
"We're still not sure whether CMI is due to a single disease or pathological process," says lead author Melvin Blanchard, M.D., associate chief of medicine at the St. Louis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "But this study has identified an intriguing association between CMI risk and diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorders prior to military service."
Other findings from the study include:
- Having CMI doubles the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver.
- Veterans with CMI report much poorer quality of life, and poorer mental and physical functioning than unaffected veterans.
- Veterans with CMI utilize more healthcare services.
- Although CMI is still much more common among deployed Gulf War veterans, veterans may be recovering, since its prevalence appears to be declining as time passes.
Blanchard's study, published online by the American Journal of Epidemiology, is part of the continuing analysis of data collected in a large VA-sponsored study, the National Health Survey of Gulf War Era VeteransPage: 1 2 3 4 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Michael Purdy
Washington University School of Medicine
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