Blood Pressure Study: Vietnam Era Veterans


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VA researchers found a link between service-related occupational exposure to herbicides and high blood pressure (hypertension) risk among U.S. Army Chemical Corps (ACC) Veterans, a group of Veterans assigned to do chemical operations during the Vietnam War. Researchers also found an association between military service in Vietnam and hypertension risk among these Veterans.

Researchers at VA’s Post Deployment Health Services Epidemiology Program, Office of Patient Care Services, conducted the Army Chemical Corps Vietnam-Era Veterans Health Study, a three-phase study of nearly 4,000 Veterans who served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps between 1965 and 1973. The study included a survey that requested information on these Veterans’ exposure to herbicides, whether they were ever diagnosed with hypertension by a physician, and their health behaviors such as cigarette smoking and alcohol use. To confirm self-reported hypertension, researchers conducted in-home blood pressure measurements and a medical records review for a portion of study participants.

ACC Veterans were studied because of their documented occupational involvement with chemical distribution, storage, and maintenance while in military service.This study follows a request by former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki for VA to conduct research on the association between herbicide exposure and hypertension to learn more about if hypertension is related to military service in Vietnam. The research was originally designed and led by Han Kang, Dr.P.H., former director of VA’s Epidemiology Program (now retired). Yasmin Cypel, Ph.D., M.S., another researcher with VA’s Epidemiology Program, is currently the principal investigator on this study, which extends prior research on these Veterans.

“This study expands our knowledge of the relationship between hypertension risk and both herbicide exposure and service in Vietnam among Veterans who served during the War by focusing on a specific group of Vietnam era Veterans who were occupationally involved in chemical operations,” said Dr. Cypel.

Self-reported hypertension was the highest among Veterans who distributed or maintained herbicides (sprayers) in Vietnam (81.6%), followed by Veterans who sprayed herbicides and served during the Vietnam War but never in Southeast Asia (non-Vietnam Veterans) (77.4%), Veterans who served in Vietnam but did not spray herbicides (72.2%), and Veterans who did not spray herbicides and were non-Vietnam Veterans (64.6%).

The odds of hypertension among herbicide sprayers were estimated to be 1.74 times the odds among non-sprayers, whereas the odds of hypertension among those who served in Vietnam was 1.26 times the odds among non-Vietnam Veterans.

The researchers would like to extend their thanks to all those Army Chemical Corps Vietnam Era Veterans who participated in this study for their contribution to the research.  Without their input there would be no findings to report and no additions to existing findings on the health consequences of military service during the Vietnam War.

VA will review the results from this research, along with findings from other similar studies and recommendations from the recent National Academies of Science report on Veterans and Agent Orange, when considering whether to add hypertension as a presumptive service condition for Vietnam Veterans.

To read more about the Army Chemical Corps Vietnam-Era Veterans Health Study, go to http://www.publichealth.va.gov/epidemiology/studies/vietnam-army-chemical-corps.asp.  To read the published article containing findings from this study, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27820763.


About the author: Stephanie Green Eber, MPH is a Health Science Specialist in Epidemiology Program at the VA Office of Patient Care Services

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Comments

  1. Lawrence Anderson    

    The lymph node in my chest enlarged approximately 2 years after leaving Vietnam. After undergoing every test available at the time (1971) to include one given by German Doctors, I was diagnosed with “Hilar adenopathy” Sarcoidosis. I was at the time, an Army trained Clinical Specialist, LPN equivalent who had never heard of Sarcoidosis. After spending much time looking for information pertaining to the illness, which there was very little available at the time, Considering my experience and exposure, I concluded that it was highly probable that the illness was unequivocally related to my Vietnam experience as a Combat Medic where I was exposed to everything one could possible be exposed to. I even got blisters on my hands and arms caused by coming in contact with wet and bloody clothing and equipment of sick & injured soldiers I treated, many of whom smelled as if they had taken a bath in some type of chemicals. The smell turned out to be the defoliants that were being sprayed over the jungles. This is enough for now. Soon you will be able to read the whole story. “Journey of Combat Medic- From South Carolina to Arkansas, 54 Years”

  2. Dale    

    Those of you who served in Vietnam need to file for disability for exposure to Agent Orange. Now, it is automatic, see your nearest VA or VSO rep (Veterans Service Office)

  3. James J Moglia    

    I worked on and flew on the spray plans at Bien Hoa AB. I have a 100% disability for Chronic B Cell Leukemia and Type II Diabetes. I now have Pancreatic Cancer! What other things are going to show up for myself and other Brothers who served in Country and were exposed to Agent Orange. I have filed with the VA to add that to my disability listing.

  4. garry hubbar    

    look i am a vietnam era vet sub ron 4,6,10 weapons we dealt with chemicals all the time i built and rebuilt alcohol and navol and nuclear weapons i now have copd from all the exposure the degreasers the high pressure air we used to blow dry the chemicals off the parts i breath in i need help with a claim

    1. JoJo Alvarez    

      My husband and I have done all of his claims and any appeals with the DAV. They will have an office at your local VA hospital or maybe a chapter near you. He has been in the VA system with them since his service connected troubles started in 1973. They work hard for you, for free. They get results. He’s 100% totally & completely service connected disabled due to Agent Orange. We could never have done the claims ourselves. Bless the DAV.

  5. howard p roberts    

    I also severed in the Big Red One, 2nd/28 inf in the jungle area 69–70 where agent orange was used almost daily, and my arms are not a pretty sight to look at.

  6. howard p roberts    

    I have had high blood presure ever since i left vietnam

    1. John Gilbert Sturges    

      Hey Brother, we were there. Watched them spray the S— on the coast. Looking from a Destroyer just offshore it was ominous looking. The Vapor would just come out to sea. Guess we never knew what the end result would be. I’m in the nam 1965 thur 1967. We lost so many friends during the war and after. Good Bless Out Troops.

  7. Robert W. Henderson    

    I have been dealing with and taking medication for hypertension for quite some time now. I am a Vietnam veteran and served aboard the carrier USS Yorktown in 1963 to 1965 and participated in Operation Rolling Thunder and Yankee Station in 1965 and 1966. Looks like us ” Blue Water ” veterans will again be ignored, tossed aside and deemed as ” non veterans ” again.

  8. larry smith    

    i am a vietnam vet 1966 thru 1968 with high blood and was in the jungles where they sprayed agent orange and i have hypertension can i get anything out of that plus numness in the balls my feet

  9. ARNOLD MILLER CABRAL    

    People and Veterans who reads this called your Senators and Representatives to passed a Veteran Law if a Veteran is 100 percent service connected if he or she needs to see Medical Provider outside the Veteran Medical Center and Medical Provider wants the money upfront from the VA should get it because it wasn’t for Veterans we would not be call United States i cannot do alone….Please

  10. Larry L. Kane    

    I’m a VeitNam Vet living in the Ph. I beleive I’m suffering from agent orange and or asbestos ? I have tumors in my legs,and one leg and foot stays swollen . My question is….can I get help here in the ph?

  11. Kenneth McDaniel    

    About time some one noticed the Viet Nam side effects to personnel. I for one had a alcohol problem when I was released from the Marine Corp. Lost several jobs due to my drinking plus a good wife. Thanks for noticing this problem.

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