Young and Bipolar at Increased Risk for Heart Disease

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Young and Bipolar at Increased Risk for Heart Disease

Studies show 10 percent of adolescents in this country suffer from mood disorders

A new statement from the American Heart Association found that children and adolescents with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder are at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life.

The statement, published online in Circulation last week, notes that about 10 percent of adolescents in the United States have major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, the first and fourth most disabling conditions among this age group.

The study’s authors classified major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder as moderate-risk conditions, and explained these are conditions for which “the disease process has been shown to be associated with pathologic, physiologic or subclinical evidence of accelerated atherosclerosis.”

Cardiologists know depression can adversely affect heart and stroke patients, but the fact that it can trigger heart risk is still a relatively new concept. Farther off the radar is the concept that risk markers for atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease, have been observed among people with mood disorders before the age of 30. “We think of mood disorders as mental illnesses, but they also have physical manifestations,” said lead author Benjamin Goldstein, M.D., of the University of Toronto.

Dr. Goldstein and colleagues noted teens with major depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries compared with those without major depression. Though the links between depression and adult cardiovascular disease are well known, “youth with mood disorders are not yet widely recognized as a group at increased risk for excessive and early heart disease,” Dr. Goldstein said in a release. “We hope [this statement] will spur action from patients, families and health-care providers to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among these youth.”

BHM Edit Staff