Objective: Despite ample evidence of excess cardiovascular mortality in bipolar disorder (BD), few studies have demonstrated increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and/or hypertension (HTN) in BD. We therefore examined this topic in a representative epidemiologic sample.
Method: The 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions was used to determine whether prevalence of physician-diagnosed CVD and HTN is elevated among subjects with lifetime bipolar I disorder (BD-I), and whether CVD and HTN are prevalent at earlier ages among subjects with BD-I.
Results: The age-, race-, and sex-adjusted prevalence of CVD was significantly greater among subjects with BD-I versus controls [odds ratio (OR) = 4.95, 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.27–5.75] and versus subjects with major depressive disorder [(MDD); OR =1.80, 95% CI: 1.52–2.14], as was the prevalence of HTN (OR = 2.38, 95% CI: 2.16–2.62 versus controls, OR = 1.44, 95% CI: 1.30–1.61 versus MDD; p < 0.0001 for all). Controlling additionally for marital status, education, income, obesity, smoking, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders did not substantially alter these findings. The mean age of BD-I subjects with CVD and HTN was 14 and 13 years younger, respectively, than controls with CVD and HTN.
Conclusions: Adults with BD-I are at increased risk of CVD and HTN, prevalent over a decade earlier than non-BD adults. Strategies are needed to prevent excessive and premature cardiovascular burden in BD-I.