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People with severe mental illness have higher risk of heart disease


LONDON — People who are suffering from severe mental illness (SMI), including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression have 53 per cent risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those without mental illness, according to an international study of more than 3.2 million people with severe mental illness.

The study led by King’s College London, the research shows that people with severe mental illness (SMI), including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, have a 53 percent higher risk for having cardiovascular disease than healthy controls, with a 78 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the longer term.

Their risk of dying from the disease was also 85 per cent higher than people of a similar age in the general population.

Researchers have identified some important factors which increase risk for heart disease, including antipsychotic use and higher body mass index.

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Published online in World Psychiatry, the study suggest that clinicians, where possible, should choose antipsychotics with lower side effects related to weight gain, high blood pressure and glucose abnormalities.

The findings highlight the importance of regularly screening SMI patients for cardiovascular risk and also point towards a number of potentially modifiable risk factors.

“People with SMI (severe mental illness) die much earlier than those without these disorders, yet the majority of these premature deaths may be preventable with care that prioritises lifestyle changes, such as exercise, better nutrition and stopping smoking, along with cautious prescribing of antipsychotics,” Brendon Stubbs from King’s College London said.

The researchers examined 92 studies across four continents and 16 different countries.

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