Study reveals link between bipolar disorder, sitting time and cardiovascular disease

A 2016 study shows a link between bipolar disorder, sitting time and a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and even death.

Published in Psychiatry Research, the exploratory study aimed to gather more information regarding physical health risk factors for people with bipolar disorder (BPD), of which there may be many.

“Mortality rates are approximately two to three times higher in people with bipolar disorder than those of the general population,” said Davy Vancampfort, corresponding author of the study.

Previous research regarding sitting time has shown that people with BPD are sedentary for more than double the amount of time as people without BPD. Given that sedentary lifestyles have been linked to obesity, heart disease and other health risks, understanding BPD’s role could be crucial for developing successful prevention programs.

“Given that sedentary behavior is modifiable, understanding sedentary behavior levels…might offer a unique opportunity to reduce the considerable [risks]seen in people with BPD,” continued Vancampfort.

Thirty-nine inpatients with BPD at a treatment center in Belgium participated in the study. They answered questionnaires about sitting time and sedentary habits and then completed the Eurofit test battery, a series of activities designed to measure flexibility, balance, speed and strength. They also took a 6-minute walking test.

Scientists found that a longer time spent sitting per day was associated with a higher waist circumference and body mass index (BMI), as well as poorer performance on the Eurofit test. Also, participants taking a higher dose of antipsychotic medication were also more likely to be more sedentary and have lower Eurofit scores.

“In people with bipolar disorder, exposure to depressive symptoms translates into a poorer physical fitness, which on its turn is associated with a sedentary lifestyle,” said Vancampfort.

“A reason [for this]might be the fact that feelings of depression are associated with a lower self-efficacy and increased negative outcome expectations when having the intention to engage in daily life activities,” he continued.

This research could lead the way toward fine-tuning and improving treatment for patients with BPD.

“Physical fitness is modifiable…interventions targeting reductions in sedentary behaviour and improvements in physical fitness should be considered,” reported Vancampfort.