People With Bipolar Disorder More Likely To Die Younger, Study Finds

07/17/2013 04:07 pm ET
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People with bipolar disorder are more likely to die earlier, a new study of Swedish adults suggests.

Researchers from Stanford University found an association between having bipolar disorder and dying an average of nine years earlier than the rest of the general population for women, and eight-and-a-half years earlier for men.

"We identified multiple causes, including increased mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, influenza or pneumonia, unintentional injuries, and suicide among women and men with bipolar disorder and cancer among women with bipolar disorder," researchers wrote in the JAMA Psychiatry study.

The findings are based on data from 6.5 million adults in Sweden, of whom 6,618 had bipolar disorder. Researchers found that the risk of dying from any cause was two-fold higher for women with bipolar disorder. The risk of suicide was extremely high for those with bipolar disorder -- 10-fold higher for women with bipolar disorder and eight-fold higher for men with bipolar disorder compared with the rest of the general population.

However, researchers noted that "although the highest HRs [hazard ratios] were for suicide, the leading causes of death were cardiovascular disease and cancer, as in the general population." Therefore, good primary medical care could help to decrease the risk of early death for people with bipolar disorder, they noted.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 5.7 million Americans have bipolar disorder (about 2.6 percent of all U.S. adults). The condition is marked by severe mood shifts between manic and depressive states, though people with the condition can also experience "mixed states" of both mania and depression simultaneously.

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