Higher Risk of Heart Disease in Depressed Teens

For the first time, experts urge early monitoring for heart and blood vessel disease among teens with major depression or bipolar disorder, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement.

“Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Predispose Youth to Accelerated Atherosclerosis and Early Cardiovascular Disease” is published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

This statement makes recommendations to consider these mood disorders as independent, moderate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and is based on a group of recent scientific studies including those that reported cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and deaths among young people. For example, a 2011 population study of more than 7,000 U.S. young adults under age 30 found that a history of depression or an attempted suicide was the number one risk factor for heart disease death caused by narrowed/clogged arteries in young women, and the number 4 risk factor in young men.

“Youth with mood disorders are not yet widely recognized as a group at increased risk for excessive and early heart disease. We hope these guidelines will spur action from patients, families and healthcare providers to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among these youth,” said Benjamin I. Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the statement and a child-adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Major depression and bipolar disorder are common mood disorders, affecting about 10 percent of U.S. adolescents. Worldwide, major depression is the main cause of disability among teens, while bipolar disorder is the fourth-leading cause. Symptoms of major depression include persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Bipolar disorder can cause severe mood swings between periods of major depression and mania, which may include increased elation, energy, irritability and a decreased need for sleep.

Previous research showed that adults with major depression and bipolar disorder are far more likely to have cardiovascular disease, and that they experience cardiovascular disease at much earlier ages than other adults. Since cardiovascular disease may begin early in life, the authors want to increase awareness and recognition of mood disorders among young people as moderate-risk conditions for early cardiovascular disease.

After systematically analyzing published research, the authors found that teens with major depression or bipolar disorder are more likely than other teens to have several cardiovascular disease risk factors including:

  • high blood pressure;
  • high cholesterol;
  • obesity, especially around the midsection;
  • type 2 diabetes;
  • and hardening of the arteries.

The biological causes of these increased risks remain unclear, but they may be related to inflammation and other types of cell damage, which some studies found occur more frequently among teens with mood disorders compared to other teens.

This image shows a girl from behind.

While teens with mood disorders were more likely than other teens to have unhealthy behaviors, like drug abuse, smoking and being physically inactive, those factors alone do not explain the increased cardiovascular risk. Image is for illustrative purposes only.

While teens with mood disorders were more likely than other teens to have unhealthy behaviors, like drug abuse, smoking and being physically inactive, those factors alone do not explain the increased cardiovascular risk.

Similarly, medications do not fully explain the increased risk. While certain mood medications can cause weight gain, and high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, most of the teens in the studies analyzed were not medicated.

Based on these findings, the authors advise including major depression and bipolar disorder as a moderate risk factor for cardiovascular disease in teens.

“Mood disorders are often lifelong conditions, and managing cardiovascular risk early and assertively is tremendously important if we are to be successful in ensuring that the next generation of youth has better cardiovascular outcomes,” Goldstein said. “These disorders indicate an increased risk of heart disease that requires increased vigilance and action at the earliest possible stage.”

About this depression research

Co-authors are Mercedes R. Carnethon, Ph.D.; Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D.; Roger S. McIntyre, M.D.; Gregory E. Miller, Ph.D.; Geetha Raghuveer, M.D.; Catherine M. Stoney, Ph.D.; Hank Wasiak, B.A., M.B.A.; and Brian W. McCrindle, M.D., M.P.H., on behalf of the American Heart Association Atherosclerosis, Hypertension and Obesity in Youth Committee of the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young.

Source: Darcy Spitz – AHA
Image Source: The image is in the public domain
Original Research: Abstract for “Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Predispose Youth to Accelerated Atherosclerosis and Early Cardiovascular Disease” by Benjamin I. Goldstein, MD, PhD, Chair; Mercedes R. Carnethon, PhD; Karen A. Matthews, PhD, FAHA; Roger S. McIntyre, MD; Gregory E. Miller, PhD; Geetha Raghuveer, MD, FAHA; Catherine M. Stoney, PhD; Hank Wasiak, BA, MBA; and Brian W. McCrindle, MD, MPH, FAHA, Co-Chair in Circulation. Published online August 10 2015 doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000229


Abstract

Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Predispose Youth to Accelerated Atherosclerosis and Early Cardiovascular Disease

In the 2011 “Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents,” several medical conditions among youth were identified that predispose to accelerated atherosclerosis and early cardiovascular disease (CVD), and risk stratification and management strategies for youth with these conditions were elaborated. Major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) among youth satisfy the criteria set for, and therefore merit inclusion among, Expert Panel tier II moderate-risk conditions. The combined prevalence of MDD and BD among adolescents in the United States is ≈10%, at least 10 times greater than the prevalence of the existing moderate-risk conditions combined. The high prevalence of MDD and BD underscores the importance of positioning these diseases alongside other pediatric diseases previously identified as moderate risk for CVD. The overall objective of this statement is to increase awareness and recognition of MDD and BD among youth as moderate-risk conditions for early CVD. To achieve this objective, the primary specific aims of this statement are to (1) summarize evidence that MDD and BD are tier II moderate-risk conditions associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and early CVD and (2) position MDD and BD as tier II moderate-risk conditions that require the application of risk stratification and management strategies in accordance with Expert Panel recommendations. In this scientific statement, there is an integration of the various factors that putatively underlie the association of MDD and BD with CVD, including pathophysiological mechanisms, traditional CVD risk factors, behavioral and environmental factors, and psychiatric medications.

“Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Predispose Youth to Accelerated Atherosclerosis and Early Cardiovascular Disease” by Benjamin I. Goldstein, MD, PhD, Chair; Mercedes R. Carnethon, PhD; Karen A. Matthews, PhD, FAHA; Roger S. McIntyre, MD; Gregory E. Miller, PhD; Geetha Raghuveer, MD, FAHA; Catherine M. Stoney, PhD; Hank Wasiak, BA, MBA; and Brian W. McCrindle, MD, MPH, FAHA, Co-Chair in Circulation. Published online August 10 2015 doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000229

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