Readiness and associated health behaviors and symptoms in recently deployed Army National Guard solders.

Integrative Cardiac Health Project, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, Washington, DC 20307-5001, USA.
Military medicine (Impact Factor: 0.77). 11/2012; 177(11):1254-60. DOI: 10.7205/MILMED-D-11-00242
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To examine major factors affecting readiness in the Army National Guard (ARNG), 265 soldiers of the Pennsylvania ARNG redeploying in 2010 from Iraq and Afghanistan were evaluated with validated questionnaires during their first unit formation. The questionnaires assessed demographic information, health habits, levels of perceived stress, mood, diet, sleep, and exercise habits, and included a screening question for depression. Our analysis revealed no negative effects of multiple deployments in this cohort of ARNG soldiers. There was no apparent impact on readiness attributable to soldiers' living locations; there did not appear to be an urban-rural divide. There were, however, numerous opportunities to improve health behaviors, including smoking (prevalence of 41%), poor dietary choices and sleep habits, as well as management of stress and mood disorders. A striking prevalence of sleep apnea exists in these ARNG soldiers (40%), approximately double that previously measured in the general U.S. population. Soldiers with high stress, depression, poor sleep quality, and sleep apnea are at increased long-term risk for cardiovascular complications and deserve focused interventions to encourage lifestyle behavior change.

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May 23, 2014