HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Peripheral arterial disease in Scottish military veterans: a retrospective cohort study of 57 000 veterans and 173 000 matched non-veterans (Scotland)

Article

While traumatic limb loss in military personnel is widely known, the threat posed by peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in those who have served is less well recognised. This paper explores the risk of PAD in a Scotland-wide cohort of veterans who served between 1960-2012.

Abstract

While traumatic limb loss in military personnel is widely known, the threat posed by peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in those who have served is less well recognized. The aim of our study was to examine the risk of PAD in a Scotland-wide cohort of veterans who served between 1960 and 2012. Retrospective 30-year cohort study of 56 205 veterans born 1945–85, and 172 741 non-veterans, matched for age, sex and area of residence, using Cox proportional hazard models to examine the association between veteran status, birth cohort, length of service and risk of PAD leading to hospitalization or death. Overall, veterans were at increased risk of PAD compared with non-veterans, unadjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 1.46, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.33–1.60, P < 0.001. The highest risk was in veterans born between 1950 and 1954, HR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.50–2.07, P < 0.001, and in those with the shortest service (early service leavers), HR = 1.84, 95% CI: 1.49–2.27, P < 0.001. The findings provide evidence for a hidden burden of life- and limb-threatening PAD in older veterans and are consistent with the higher rates of military smoking which have been reported previously. The study emphasizes the need for vascular preventive measures in this group.

Full Reference

Bergman, B. P., Mackay, D. F. and Pell, J. P., 2018. Peripheral arterial disease in Scottish military veterans: a retrospective cohort study of 57,000 veterans and 173,000 matched non-veterans. Journal of Public Health. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdy046.