Heart disease and cancer cause high death rates for schizophrenics

Researchers have identified the two biggest causes of early death for schizophrenics: heart disease and cancer.

A new study from Lund University found that patients with schizophrenia have an average lifespan that is 15 years shorter for men and 12 years shorter for women, but most patients aren't getting diagnosed with deadly conditions until it's too late.

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The study

Researchers followed over six million people between 2003 and 2009, a population that included 8,277 schizophrenics.

And while the results showed that schizophrenia patients actually had more contact with doctors and health care providers--twice as much as non-schizophrenics, in fact-- they still weren't more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease or cancer than their peers.

"It is clear that the health service is failing to diagnose cardiovascular disease and cancer in these patients," said Jan Sundquist, general practitioner and professor at the Centre for Primary Health Care Research at Lund University.

Scary statistics

The study found that women schizophrenics were 3.3 times more likely to die of heart disease and 1.7 times more likely to die of cancer. For men with schizophrenia, the death rates were 2.2 and 1.4 times higher, respectively.

And only 26.3 percent of schizophrenic men who died from heart disease were diagnosed with the condition before they died. About 44 percent of men who didn't have schizophrenia, by comparison, were diagnosed before death.

Sundquist elaborates:

"It is unacceptable that such a vulnerable group of people, who also have extensive documented contact with the health service, should die prematurely of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer -- diseases that should be preventable. A much greater degree of diagnostic and preventive measures could be put in place for this vulnerable group in our society."

The findings are published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Source: Science Daily

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Most Insurance Accepted.
Innovative Schizophrenia Treatment.
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