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PTSD prevalent among heart-attack patients

PHOENIX — New research published in the Public Library of Science journal shows that one in eight people who suffer a heart attack go on to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.

That also means those patients who develop PTSD have a higher risk of suffering another heart attack.

“Imagine sleeping soundly and being woken up by 10-out-of-10 pain in your chest, and wondering what’s going on while being rushed to the hospital when several hours ago you were sound asleep in your bed. That’s very traumatizing,” said Dr. Grayson Wheatley, a heart surgeon with the Arizona Heart Institute.

Wheatley said because heart attacks are sudden, they can be just as traumatizing as a car accident.

Doctors and medical groups have just begun to see how many patients go through PTSD after suffering heart attacks. Wheatley believes it could lead to changes in post-surgical care.

“Imagine having a heart attack, and the next person you speak with is your therapist, not your heart specialist. That may be where we are going,” said Wheatley.