U.S. military veterans with acute sleep disorders, hypertension conditions and high levels of anxiety have twice as much risk of dying of heart attacks, said a study. "This study for the first time appears to point to the mechanism for the cardiovascular part of that excess mortality risk: accelerated atherosclerosis," said Dr. Naser Ahmadi, a researcher at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center.

This is the first time researchers have made an attempt to explain the direct association between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and atherosclerosis.Researchers went through medical records of 286,194 veterans for the study. Those diagnosed with the disorder had 2.4 times the rate of death from all causes compared with others.

About 637 of them were studied using a noninvasive technique, and researchers noted that three-quarters of those with PTSD had more severe disease of their arteries than non-PTSD veterans.

"If we focus on early detection and management of cardiovascular risk factors in veterans with PTSD, we might be able to delay the onset of cardiovascular disease," said Ahmadi.