Based on a review of the published research, the AHA expert panel found sufficient evidence to classify MDD and BD as tier II conditions—those “shown to be associated with pathologic, physiologic, or subclinical evidence of accelerated atherosclerosis.” While tier II conditions are considered moderate risk factors, the AHA expert panel that developed the statement noted that teens with MDD and BD are more likely to have other traditional heart risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes, and thus are more likely to be at high risk for heart disease.
MDD and BD are common disorders among U.S. adolescents, affecting about 8.7% and 2.6% of teens, respectively. As such, there is a large population of youth who now deserve extra vigilance, noted Benjamin Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., a child-adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Toronto, who was the lead author of the statement.
“Mood disorders are often lifelong conditions, and managing cardiovascular risk early and assertively is tremendously important if we are to be successful in ensuring that the next generation of youth has better cardiovascular outcomes,” Goldstein said in a press release.
To read about research linking antidepressant medication with positive cardiovascular benefits, see the Psychiatric News article "Antidepressants May Help Improve Heart Health."