Bipolar disorder is associated with premature mortality, but the specific causes and underlying
pathways are unclear.
To examine the physical health effects of bipolar disorder using outpatient and inpatient data
for a national population.
Design, Setting, and Participants
National cohort study of 6 587 036 Swedish adults, including 6618 with bipolar
Main Outcomes and Measures
Physical comorbidities diagnosed in any outpatient or inpatient setting nationwide and mortality
(January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2009).
Women and men with bipolar disorder died 9.0 and 8.5 years earlier on average than the rest of
the population, respectively. All-cause mortality was increased 2-fold among women (adjusted
hazard ratio [aHR], 2.34; 95% CI, 2.16-2.53) and men (aHR, 2.03; 95% CI, 1.85-2.23) with bipolar
disorder, compared with the rest of the population. Patients with bipolar disorder had increased
mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), influenza or pneumonia, unintentional injuries, and suicide for both women and men and
cancer for women only. Suicide risk was 10-fold among women (aHR, 10.37; 95% CI, 7.36-14.60) and
8-fold among men (aHR, 8.09; 95% CI, 5.98-10.95) with bipolar disorder, compared with the rest of
the population. Substance use disorders contributed only modestly to these findings. The association
between bipolar disorder and mortality from chronic diseases (ischemic heart disease, diabetes,
COPD, or cancer) was weaker among persons with a prior diagnosis of these conditions (aHR, 1.40; 95%
CI, 1.26-1.56) than among those without a prior diagnosis (aHR, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.95-2.90;
Pinteraction = .01).
Conclusions and Relevance
In this large national cohort study, patients with bipolar disorder died prematurely from
multiple causes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, influenza or pneumonia,
unintentional injuries, and suicide. However, chronic disease mortality among those with more timely
medical diagnosis approached that of the general population, suggesting that better provision of
primary medical care may effectively reduce premature mortality among persons with bipolar