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Musculoskeletal Conditions and Secondary Cardiovascular Morbidity Increase Veterans' Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Service Utilization.

Rivera JC, Amuan ME, Pugh MJ. Musculoskeletal Conditions and Secondary Cardiovascular Morbidity Increase Veterans' Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Service Utilization. Cureus. 2022 Jul 1; 14(7):e27139.

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Background Musculoskeletal conditions often affect patients'' mobility and ability to participate in health behaviors such as exercise, potentially affecting their systemic health. The purpose of this research is to determine how frequently cardiac-related comorbidities present in a veteran population with musculoskeletal service-connected disability and how this affects musculoskeletal health care utilization.  Methodology A retrospective cohort of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who received a Veterans Affairs (VA) disability determination for service-connected musculoskeletal disability were categorized according to the diagnosis of cardiac comorbidity including diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and obesity, and atherosclerosis disease documented by ICD-9 codes in the VA administrative data. Among veterans with musculoskeletal service-connected disability, logistic regression was modeled to determine if musculoskeletal clinic utilization was associated with also having a cardiac comorbid condition.  Results Veterans with musculoskeletal disability had a comorbid cardiac disorder 43% of the time. Post-traumatic arthritis was the only musculoskeletal condition positively associated with comorbid cardiac conditions. Veterans with comorbid cardiac diagnoses had 26-37% higher odds of receiving care by physical and occupational therapy, physical medicine, and orthopaedic surgery clinics compared to veterans without comorbid cardiac disease. Conclusions Veterans in this cohort with musculoskeletal service-connected disability, plus cardiac conditions had greater clinic use for musculoskeletal and rehabilitation services compared to those without cardiac conditions. These results have implications for the rehabilitation and other health service needs of a new generation of veterans.

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