According to a press release issued by Michigan State University on June 10, 2010, a recent MSU study reports that nearly half of patients hospitalized with bipolar disorder may suffer from hypertension as well, and the younger a person is diagnosed with bipolar, the more likely they are to also develop high blood pressure.

The study was led by MSU psychiatrist Dale D'Mello.  It analyzed 99 patients hospitalized for bipolar disorder.

D'Mello presented his findings last week at the American Psychiatric Association's 2010 annual meeting in New Orleans.  He believes they could lead to improved treatments.

While the connection between such disorders and cardio-metabolic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease has been established, D'Mello also discovered that people with bipolar disorder and also having high blood pressure suffered higher levels of mania.

"There is a large clinical relevance that the finding hypertension could be linked to the severity of bipolar disorders," he said. "There is some similarity to the pathology of the two conditions; they both can be triggered by stress and are tied to the excretion of norepinephrine, a hormone affecting how the brain reacts to stress."

He also added that understanding how bipolar disorder and cardio-metabolic conditions are linked could help physicians create more effective treatment options.

"These findings show that we should look to treat hypertension more aggressively in bipolar patients," said D'Mello, who has been studying the link between medical and psychiatric conditions for decades.

"There also is some evidence hypertension may lead to brain lesions; diagnosing high blood pressure and treating it earlier may change the medical outcomes for people battling bipolar disorders."

D'Mello, who is a professor in the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry, part of the colleges of Human Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, said that the next step is to discover how hypertension and other cardio-metabolic disorders interact over the long term.

"Is this just a point of time comparison or an enduring concern? We need to follow people and look at mania ratings over a period of time and not just during a hospital stay," he said.