Putting the Heart into Youth Bipolar Disorder

Research has shown that bipolar disorder among adults is associated with increased vascular risk, including heart attack and stroke, and that this risk is evident early in life.

The high vascular risk associated with bipolar disorder is worsened, but not fully explained, by such factors as psychotropic medications, substance use, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

In fact, the risk of cardiovascular disease in bipolar disorder goes beyond what can be explained by even traditional cardiovascular risk factors, such hypertension and obesity. Beyond their relevance to physical health, risk factors for heart disease are also associated with the severity and course of bipolar disorder.

Dr. Goldstein provides a high-level review of the association between vascular risk and bipolar disorder, and summarize the recommendations from a recent American Heart Association scientific statement in relation to adolescent bipolar disorder.
He then focuses on recent evidence of excessive vascular risk among adolescents with bipolar disorder, including imaging data that informs our understanding of the vascular-bipolar link. Finally, clinical, scientific, and stigma-related implications will be discussed.

Dr. Ben Goldstein is the 2017 recipient of The Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research and a Clinician Scientist at Sunnybrook Hospital.