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Veterans with PTSD require more sedation when treated at ICU

Researchers suggest that making adjustments to treatment earlier could improve patient care and outcome.

By Stephen Feller
Veterans with PTSD require more sedation when treated at ICU
Between 10 and 20 percent of veterans are estimated to have PTSD. Photo by U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class Molly A. Burgess

BUFFALO, N.Y., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- In a review of patient records, researchers found veterans with post traumatic stress disorder treated with mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit had higher requirements for sedatives.

Between 10 and 20 percent of veterans who served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have PTSD in any given year, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

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"More than 10 percent of our VA ICU patients suffer from PTSD," said Dr. Jad Kebbe, a researcher at the University at Buffalo, in a press release. "Their ICU care should incorporate proper awareness of their PTSD, with particular attention to their sedation regimen."

Researchers analyzed data on 1,569 patients at VHA Western New York Healthcare System collected between 2003 and 2013. They focused on 164 patients who were treated with mechanical ventilation in the ICU, 87 of whom had PTSD.

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There was not a significant difference in the number of days they were on mechanical ventilation, 30-day mortality or other health outcomes. The patients with PTSD, however, required more than half a day of additional sedation with benzodiazepines, three-quarters of a day more treatment with opiates, and a higher mean daily dose of propofol.

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The researchers also noted there was a statistical trend toward higher mortality in the ICU for patients with PTSD.

"Developing sedation regimens tailored to PTSD patients may indeed reduce their sedative requirements and improve their ICU experience and outcome," researchers wrote in the study, published in the journal CHEST, which is due to be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

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