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The Department of Environmental Economics and Management

The Robert H. Smith Faculty
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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Holocaust survival and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in the elderly

Citation:

Kagansky, N. ; Knobler, H. ; Stein-Babich, M. ; Voet, H. ; Shalit, A. ; Lindert, J. ; Knobler, H. Y. Holocaust survival and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Israel Medical Association Journal 2019, 21, 241-245.

Abstract:

Background: Reports of longevity in Holocaust survivors (HS) conflict with excess prevalence of chronic diseases described among them. However, data on their long-term risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are limited. Clinical data on large representative groups of HS who were exposed to severe persecution are also limited. Objectives: To determine the prevalence of CVD and the risk factors in a large cohort of elderly HS compared to elderly individuals who were not exposed to the Holocaust (NHS). Methods: CVD prevalence rates and data on risk factors from the computerized system of the central district of Clalit Health Services, the largest Israeli health maintenance organization in Israel, were evaluated in a retrospective observational study. The study was comprised of 4004 elderly HS who underwent direct severe persecution. They were randomly matched by identification numbers to 4004 elderly NHS. Results: HS were older than NHS and 51% of them were older than 85 years. The prevalence rate of ischemic heart disease (IHD) was significantly higher among HS. HS underwent significantly more cardiac interventions (20% vs. 15.7%, P < 0.05). HS status was an independent risk factor for increased IHD and for more coronary interventions. Conclusions: Despite having a higher prevalence of CVD, a substantial number of HS live long lives. This finding may imply both unique resilience and ability to cope with chronic illness of the survivors as well as adjusted medical services for this population. These findings may help in planning the treatment of other mass trauma survivors. © 2019, Israel Medical Association. All rights reserved.

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