People with schizophrenia die 12 to 15 years earlier than their counterparts in the general population, a difference driven largely by ischemic heart disease and cancer, according to a large study of Swedish patients. “Despite having more than twice as many contacts with the health care system than other people, schizophrenia patients had no increased risk of having a diagnosis of nonfatal ischemic heart disease or cancer but had a far greater mortality from these conditions, suggesting substantial underdiagnosis and/or undertreatment,” said Casey Crump, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Medicine and the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University.
For instance, ischemic heart disease was diagnosed prior to death in only 26% of schizophrenia patients, compared with 44% of others who died of heart disease. “Preventive interventions should prioritize primary health care tailored to this population, including more effective risk modification and screening for cardiovascular disease and cancer,” the researchers said.
For an in-depth review of this topic, see the book Medical Illness and Schizophrenia, Second Edition, from American Psychiatric Publishing. For an analysis showing higher standardized mortality ratios for cardiovascular and other diseases in people with mental illness, see the new online issue of the APA journal PS in Advance.