The Effect of Combat Exercises on Cardiovascular Response: An Exploratory Study

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

MeLisa Gantt, RN, MSN
College of Nursing, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Learning Objective 1: discuss the reasons why cardiovascular studies should be conducted in a young supposedly healthy military population.

Learning Objective 2: discuss how multiple combat exposures could increase a soldier's risk for future hypertension.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess the cardiovascular (CV) response of soldiers under combat related stressors and to identify the factors that play the most significant role.  This study serves as the preliminary study to a three-phase program of research addressing the impact that multiple combat exposures may have on future hypertension (HTN) risk.

Methods: Using the first phase of the Allostasis/Allostatic Load theoretical framework as a guide, this repeated measures design will assess 48-hours of continuous CV measures of a convenient sample of 60 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets.  Paired t-Tests will be conducted to compare several CV indices before, during, and after exposure to a simulated combat stressor; followed by a forward multiple regression analysis to assess which factors (e.g., individual differences, perceived stress, or level of fitness) play the most significant role.

Results: The results of this study will provide an objective clinical view of the state of CV health among young incoming soldiers.  The results will also provide rich quantitative evidence to support the need for policy change to incorporate CV health assessments during the pre and post deployment health screenings.

Conclusion: Most CV studies involving the military have been retrospective often using single blood pressure measures and self-reported information extracted from questionnaires and databases.  In addition, few CV studies have been conducted on younger soldiers with the use of instruments capable of obtaining continuous real-time CV measures while actively engaged in their combat element.  This study will not only help identify those soldiers at higher risk but could also serve as the catalyst for new and innovative ways of obtaining, storing and transmitting real-time biophysiologic measures while in combat.