Schizophrenics, psychotics more likely to die of heart disease

Washington, Nov 16 ( People with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders are more likely to die of heart disease than normal people, says a new study.

Moreover, smoking and physical inactivity – behaviours that individuals potentially can change – significantly contribute to this increased risk of death, says research leader Amy Kilbourne, associate director of the Ann Arbor National Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research (AANSMITR).

Patients with mental disorders who also had a diagnosis of diabetes – a known risk factor for heart disease and a side-effect of some anti-psychotic medications – were at high risk for heart disease-related mortality, as were patients with a diagnosis of dementia.

Smoking and lack of exercise, both common behaviours in people with mental disorders, contributed to the heart disease-related deaths considerably.

“These are devastating illnesses that lead to a lot of functional impairment, so many of these individuals have difficulty staying motivated to exercise to begin with, or finding places where they feel comfortable exercising,” Kilbourne said.

They looked at results from the 1999 Large Health Survey of Veteran Enrollees with the National Psychosis Registry and the National Death Index of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says an AANSMITR release.

The study is based on responses from more than 147,000 veterans, the largest of its kind. Most of the respondents were men and about two-thirds were 50 years or older.

These findings appear in the November-December issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.