Studies have shown that patients with bipolar disorder have high rates of serious and/or untreated co-occurring general medical conditions. This case series examined reports of co-occurring medical conditions with bipolar disorder in potential clinical study participants, and in particular the percentage of these individuals who were previously unaware of their conditions.
Patients were potential participants in 1 of 2 medication trials who met DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder and were excluded from those studies just prior to randomization from May 2009 through July 2011. Patients were compared with each other on a number of demographic criteria, including age, race, gender, reason for exclusion from the trial, and psychiatric diagnoses.
Of the patients excluded from the studies just prior to randomization, 31% (n = 10) were excluded because of medical conditions previously unreported by the patient during screening for these studies. Seventy percent of those excluded patients (n = 7) had no prior knowledge of their conditions.
These results suggest that patients with bipolar disorder may not only have high rates of co-occurring medical conditions but also frequently remain unaware of those conditions. These findings indicate that co-occurring general medical conditions may be a more serious problem in the treatment of bipolar disorder than previously appreciated and that more stringent monitoring and guidelines are needed regardless of medication regimen. This case series asserts that, regardless of a patient's claim of having no medical conditions, more general medical screening may be needed in outpatient psychiatric settings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives
Individuals with bipolar disorder have high rates of other medical comorbidity, which is associated with higher mortality rates and worse course of illness. The present study examined common predictors of medical comorbidity.Methods
The Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness for Bipolar Disorder study (Bipolar CHOICE) enrolled 482 participants with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder in a six-month, randomized comparative effectiveness trial. Baseline assessments included current and lifetime DSM-IV-TR diagnoses, demographic information, psychiatric and medical history, severity of psychiatric symptoms, level of functioning, and a fasting blood draw. Medical comorbidities were categorized into two groups: cardiometabolic (e.g., diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and metabolic syndrome) and non-cardiovascular (e.g., seizures, asthma, and cancer). Additionally, we looked at comorbid substance use (e.g., smoking and drug dependence).ResultsWe found that 96.3% of participants had at least one other medical comorbidity. Older age predicted a greater likelihood of having a cardiometabolic condition. Early age of onset of bipolar symptoms was associated with a lower chance of having a cardiometabolic condition, but a greater chance of having other types of medical comorbidity. Additional predictors of other medical comorbidities in bipolar disorder included more time spent depressed, less time spent manic/hypomanic, and longer duration of illness. Medications associated with weight gain were associated with low high-density lipoprotein and abnormal triglycerides.Conclusions
There appears to be a substantial medical burden associated with bipolar disorder, highlighting the need for collaborative care among psychiatric and general medical providers to address both psychiatric and other medical needs concomitantly in this group of patients.
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