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Bulimia Increases Long-Term Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Death

October 29, 2019

A diagnosis of bulimia nervosa more than quadrupled the risk of cardiovascular disease and death over 12 years of follow-up in a cohort study of women hospitalized in Canada. Researchers published their findings online in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Our findings suggest that women with a history of bulimia nervosa should be informed of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in the first decade after the index admission for bulimia,” researchers wrote. “These women may benefit from screening for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors.”

The study of 416,709 women hospitalized in Canada included 818 women who were hospitalized for bulimia nervosa and a comparison group of 415,891 women hospitalized for pregnancy-related events. All participants were followed for 12 years for instances of cardiovascular disease and death.

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Women hospitalized with bulimia nervosa had a greater incidence of cardiovascular disease than women hospitalized for pregnancy-related events, the study found. The incidence of cardiovascular disease was highest among women hospitalized 3 or more times for bulimia.

Women with bulimia had 4.25 times the risk of cardiovascular disease and 4.72 times the risk of death compared with women in the comparison cohort, according to the study.

“Risks were greatest within 2 years of the index bulimia-related hospitalization and remained elevated until 5 years later before disappearing by around 10 years of follow-up,” researchers wrote. “This pattern was observed for several cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, other ischemic heart disease, and conduction disorders.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


Tith RM, Paradis G, Potter BJ, et al. Association of bulimia nervosa with long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality among women. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 October 16;[Epub ahead of print].

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