Teens with major depression or bipolar disorder may face a higher risk for heart disease and they need to be followed closely, new recommendations from the American Heart Association state.
“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 health care providers to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among these youth,” Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, a child-adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center at the University of Toronto, said in a heart association news release.
Goldstein and his colleagues reviewed published studies and found that teens with major depression or bipolar disorder were more likely than other teens to have: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; obesity, especially around the midsection; type 2 diabetes; and hardening of the arteries.
A 2011 study included in the review looked at more than 7,000 American adults younger than 30 and found that a history of depression or attempted suicide was the top risk factor for heart disease death caused by narrowed/blocked arteries in young women; it was the fourth highest risk factor in young men.
The reasons for this increased risk are unclear. It’s known teens with mood disorders are more likely to have unhealthy habits such as smoking, drug use and physical inactivity, but these factors alone do not explain why they are more likely to develop heart disease, the researchers said.
Some medications used to treat mood disorders can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels, but most of the teens in the studies included in the review were not taking these medicines.
Some studies have found that inflammation and other types of cell damage are more common among teens with mood disorders, and that may help explain their increased risk of heart disease, the experts added.
The statement was published Aug. 10 in the journal Circulation.
“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,” he concluded.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about teen depression.