Nearly half of patients hospitalized with bipolar disorder may suffer from hypertension, and the younger a person is diagnosed with the psychiatric condition the more likely they are to develop high blood pressure, a recent Michigan State University study has found.
The study, led by MSU psychiatrist Dale D'Mello, analyzed 99 patients hospitalized for bipolar disorder, a condition sometimes called manic-depressive disorder and characterized by mood swings ranging from depression to mental hyperactivity known as mania.
D'Mello's findings could lead to improved treatments.
While the connection between such disorders and cardio-metabolic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has been established, D'Mello also discovered bipolar patients with high blood pressure suffered higher levels of mania.
"There is a large clinical relevance to the finding hypertension could be linked to the severity of bipolar disorders. There is some similarity to the pathology of the two conditions; they both can be triggered by stress and are tied to the excretion of norepinephrine, a hormone affecting how the brain reacts to stress," he said.
Understanding how bipolar disorder and cardio-metabolic conditions are linked could help physicians create more effective treatment options, he added.
"These findings show that we should look to treat hypertension more aggressively in bipolar patients. There also is some evidence hypertension may lead to brain lesions; diagnosing high blood pressure and treating it earlier may change the medical outcomes for people battling bipolar disorders," said D'Mello.
The findings were presented last week at the American Psychiatric Association's 2010 annual meeting in New Orleans.