Cardiovascular and Endocrinologic Risks Associated With Schizophrenia

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A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry says those experiencing their first schizophrenia spectrum episode were more likely to exhibit a number of cardiovascular and endocrinologic risk factors compared to those without the condition.

The researchers led by Christoph U. Cornell, MD, from North Shore-LIJ Health System in Glen Oaks, saw that half of the relatively young participants enrolled in a prospective study of schizophrenia spectrum disorders (mean age 24), half were obese or overweight, close to 60% showed abnormal lipid levels, half showed higher than normal blood pressure or overt hypertension, and 13% met the criteria for metabolic syndrome.

The team noted that some of these factors were most likely related to antipsychotic medications prescribed to the patients, but the research indicated that the illness itself and “unhealthy lifestyles” associated with the illness most likely played significant roles as well.

“Prevention of and early interventions for psychiatric illness and treatment with lower-risk agents, routine antipsychotic adverse effect monitoring, and smoking cessation interventions are needed from the earliest illness phases,” Correll and colleagues wrote.

Shortened average lifespans among those with schizophrenia spectrum disorders have been thoroughly documented, with premature cardiovascular disease the most common cause of death. Obesity is also notably higher among those with schizophrenia, and evidence suggests not all weight gain is associated with atypical antipsychotic medications.

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