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Original Research

Antihypertensive Medications and PTSD Incidence in a Trauma Cohort

Jaimie L. Gradus, DMSc, DSc; Meghan L. Smith, PhD; Péter Szentkúti, MSc; Anthony J. Rosellini, PhD; Erzsébet Horváth-Puhó, PhD; Timothy L. Lash, DSc, MPH; Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH; Paula P. Schnurr, PhD; Jennifer A. Sumner, PhD; and Henrik T. Sørensen, MD, DMSc

Published: August 2, 2023


Objective: Antihypertensive medications have been examined as agents for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevention in trauma-exposed individuals, given well-documented associations between PTSD and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and purported trauma-relevant mechanisms of action for these medications. Evidence regarding the effectiveness of such drugs for this purpose remains mixed.

Methods: We conducted a national population-based cohort study using data from Danish national registries to assess whether 4 classes of antihypertensive drugs (beta-adrenoceptor blockers [beta blockers], angiotensin II receptor blockers [ARBs], angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers) were associated with a decreased incidence of PTSD (diagnosed according to ICD-10) over a 22-year study period. Data for this study originated from a population-based cohort of over 1.4 million persons who experienced a traumatic event between 1994 and 2016 in Denmark. We calculated the incidence rate of PTSD per 100,000 person-years among persons who filled a prescription for each class of drug in the 60 days prior to a traumatic event and for corresponding unexposed comparison groups. We then used Cox proportional hazards regression to compare the rate of PTSD among persons who filled an antihypertensive medication prescription within 60 days before their trauma to the rate among persons who did not.

Results: We found evidence that calcium channel blockers were associated with a decreased incidence of PTSD (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.34, 1.2); all other antihypertensive medication classes had null or near null associations.

Conclusions: These findings lay a foundation for additional research focusing on antihypertensive medications that appear most effective in reducing PTSD incidence following trauma and for additional replication work aimed at continuing to clarify the disparate findings reported in the literature to date.

J Clin Psychiatry 2023;84(5):22m14767

Author affiliations are listed at the end of this article.

Volume: 84

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