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    Many Bipolar Patients Face Other Conditions, Too

    People With Bipolar Disorder Have High Rates of Conditions Like Migraines and Hypertension

    Bipolar Disorder and High Blood Pressure

    A second study presented at the meeting showed that nearly half of people with bipolar disorder suffer from high blood pressure, compared with about one-third of people in the general population.

    Previous research has shown that people with bipolar disorder suffer a disproportionate burden of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and stroke, says Dale D'Mello, MD, of Michigan State University.

    To try to better understand the relationship, D'Mello and colleagues studied 99 people with bipolar disorder who were treated at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing, Mich., between 2002 and 2006.

    A total of 45% had hypertension. In contrast, the government's Healthy People 2010 initiative put the rate of high blood pressure in the general population at 30.5%.

    The average age of the bipolar patients with hypertension was 44, compared with 37 for those with normal blood pressure. They were also more likely to be obese, with an average body mass index of 33 vs. 28 for those with normal blood pressure.

    Hypertensive patients also had higher average scores on a 56-point scale used to gauge mania -- 40 vs. 35 -- and they were diagnosed with bipolar disorder earlier, at an average age of 24, compared with 29 in patients with normal blood pressure.

    The study had some major limitations, such as not taking into account the use of certain antipsychotic drugs that can lead to metabolic syndrome, D'Mello says.

    Nevertheless, the link is worthy of further study, he tells WebMD. "It opens a host of questions. Do some patients become hypertensive because they have mania? Could keeping patients stable prevent hypertension? And could treating hypertension change the outcome of bipolar disorder? These are all issues to be explored."

    Muskin says it's also possible that some of the drugs used to treat bipolar may be contributing to the higher rate of hypertension because they can cause weight gain. Obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure.

    This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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