Mental health consumers more likely to die of heart disease

A new study has looked at the high incidence of heart disease among people in mental health treatment.

As reports Medical News Today in an article entitled Heart Disease A ‘Silent Killer’ In Patients With Severe Mental Illness.

A large new study confirms that people with severe mental disorders – such as schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders – are 25 percent to 40 percent more prone to die from heart disease than people without mental illness are.

Moreover, smoking and physical inactivity – behaviors that individuals potentially can change – significantly contribute to this increased risk of death, found researchers led by Amy Kilbourne, Ph.D.

They looked at results from the 1999 Large Health Survey of Veteran Enrollees in conjunction with the VA’s National Psychosis Registry and the National Death Index of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Including responses from more than 147,000 veterans, the study is the largest of its kind to ever take place. Most of the respondents were men and about two-thirds were 50 or older.

The results of this study are reported in the November-December issue of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

Apparently a diagnosis of severe mental illness increases the risk of cardiac arrest even when such factors as obesity, diabetes, and lifestyle are accounted for.

The results of this study suggest people with serious mental illnesses are far less likely to receive medical screening and general preventive care. When the quality of care is brought up to the level that it is with other segments of the population part of the problem has been resolved.

The other part of the problem that this article barely touches upon deals with many of the drugs that are being used to manage mental disorders. We know that some of the atypical neuroleptic drugs used cause metabolic changes that invariably shorten lifespans. We need to be bluntly honest and realistic about these drugs, and we need to look for other, less deadly, methods of treatment if we are to prevent even more casualties of psychiatric intervention.