Mental illness linked to higher death risk in heart disease

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Scientists from the the University of Birmingham found that compared to the general population, people with severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, have a higher death risk of heart disease.

The research is published in PLOS Medicine and was conducted by Amanda Lambert et al.

Previous research has identified higher incidence and mortality from cardiovascular disease in people with severe mental illness, but it was not known whether that association has changed over time.

In the study, the team reviewed 108 previous research papers including over 30 million participants, all aged 16 to 65 years of age at the start of a psychiatric disorder.

The team found that overall, the heart-related death risk for people with severe mental illness is about twice that of the general population.

People with schizophrenia are at greater risk than those with bipolar disorder, but the disparity exists across all types of severe mental illness and both cerebrovascular and cardiac mortality.

For both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the association with cardiovascular-related mortality grew stronger between the 1970s and the 2000s.

The findings confirmed a strong association between severe mental illness and heart disease which became stronger in the 1990s and 2000s.

The team says it was not possible to explore all possible confounders, such as smoking and obesity.

More research is needed to understand the reasons for the higher morbidity risk and to assess why it may have been worsening in recent decades.

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