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Mental Illness Linked to Higher Risk of Deadly Heart Issues

WEDNESDAY, April 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other severe mental illnesses are at increased risk of death from heart problems, a large research review finds.

"Our systematic review and meta-analysis of over 100 studies has confirmed a strong association between severe mental illness and cardiovascular disease which became stronger in the 1990s and 2000s," said study author Amanda Lambert, of the University of Birmingham in England, and her colleagues.

For the new study, they analyzed 108 studies that included more than 30 million people who were between 16 and 65 years of age when they were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

Overall, people with severe mental illness had roughly double the odds of dying from heart problems, compared to the general population. The risk was higher among those with schizophrenia than among those with bipolar disorder.

For both disorders, the risk of death from heart problems increased between the 1970s and the 2000s, according to the findings.

The review was published April 19 in the journal PLOS Medicine.

"The increased relative risk of [cardiovascular disease] diagnosis in more recent decades may be a result of disparity in smoking prevalence between people with [severe mental illness] and the general population or increased use of antipsychotics," the authors said in a journal news release.

"The changes since the 1990s approximately coincide with the release of newer, second-generation antipsychotics which are known to have worse metabolic effects," they noted.

More research is needed to learn why people with severe mental illness have a higher risk of death from heart problems and why the risk has worsened.

More information

For more on mental health conditions, go to Mental Health America.

SOURCE: PLOS Medicine, news release, April 19, 2022

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