New Study: Schizophrenia and Risk of Heart Attack

Recently, scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) found there was greater risk of death resulting from heart attack in people with schizophrenia than in the general public.

The Evidence

Data tells us that people with schizophrenia have a lifespan 20 years shorter than the general population. There are different factors for this including an unhealthy lifestyle (substance abuse, smoking, not enough exercise, poor diet, etc.) increased rates of diabetes and problems brought on by the use of some antipsychotic medications.

The Scoop

Chief of Division of General and Health Systems Psychiatry at CAMH, Dr. Paul Kurdyak, analyzed Ontario-wide patient data over four years, tracking all incidents of heart attack and comparing the results among people with and without schizophrenia.

What’s Next?

Dr. Kurdyak offers two possible solutions: prevention is one (healthier lifestyle). The other is aftercare (all specialists need to work together to ensure that patients are seen again after a first incident of heart attack). The study found that people with schizophrenia were significantly less likely (50 per cent) to receive cardiac procedures or to see a cardiologist within 30 days of discharge from hospital.

To summarize the issue, Dr. Kurdyak states:

"The numbers tell us that people with schizophrenia--the ones who are at most risk to develop and subsequently die from heart attacks -- are not receiving adequate care."

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