Previously I’d written on a study of veterans with mental illnesses dying of heart attacks. Apparently the situation is a little more ‘complicated’ than I’d first indicated. Here’s what an article on the same study, Heart Disease A Killer in Psychotic Individuals, says:
Just 11 percent had never been diagnosed with a mental disorder, while 15.5 percent had schizophrenia, 10 percent had bipolar disorder, 5 percent had psychotic symptoms but hadn’t been diagnosed with schizophrenia, 24 percent had major depression, and 34.5 percent had other types of depression.
Within 8 years, 8 percent of the study participants had died of heart disease. Individuals with psychosis were nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease during follow-up compared to those who’d never been diagnosed with a mental disorder.
People with schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder also were at increased risk of dying from heart disease, but for individuals with depression or bipolar illness, behavioral factors such as smoking and lack of physical activity accounted for all of the excess risk.
Even with these behavioral factors taken into account people with schizophrenia were 17% more likely to die of a heart attack while people with other psychotic disorders were 30% more likely to die of heart disease.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Amy M. Kilbourne, blames the problem on the instability, disorientation, and shame associated with psychosis. She claims that psychosis, for some people, makes the health system difficult to maneuver.
Mental patients often tend to be poor people who are not given the best care that money can buy in the first place. Managing an incredibly bureaucratic health system quagmire is not one of the things they are particularly adept at doing.
While I say that, these patients were military service veteran’s and in the care of the Veteran Administration, and so their care was probably at a higher level than it would have been for others in the mental health system.
Is the head muscle really connected to the heart muscle? I seriously doubt that, by itself, psychosis is linked with heart problems.
I’d have to say that in a sense this approach begs the issue. We’ve managed to protect the drug companies, and cover up the fact that the chemical compounds they manufacture and market produce metabolic changes in the people who take them that result in health complications that include cardiac conditions.
Such factors need to be factored into any study being made of the matter, not out!
Next question: Do all researchers in matters psychiatric wear such blinders into the laboratory as the authors of this study seem to have done?