A major UK study has indicated that people with a severe mental illness are at significantly higher risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases than those who have experienced no mental health problems.
The doctors who carried out the study say a more holistic approach is needed to the care of people with mental illness, in order to address issues of physical health and recovery.
Researchers at London’s Royal Free Medical School selected over 46,000 people with mental health problems that included schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
They then compared their medical histories with a group of 300,000 individuals without mental illnesses.
Coronary heart disease and strokes were found to be between two and three times more common in those who had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness.
The study also suggested that those on antipsychotic medication, especially at higher doses, were at increased risk of cardiovascular illness.
“People with severe mental illness who were not prescribed any antipsychotics were at increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, whereas those prescribed such medications were at even greater risk,” said David Osborn Ph.D, who led the study.
“Clinically, a holistic approach to the care of people with severe mental illness is still frequently overlooked.
“Such an approach demands effective communication between primary and secondary care to provide coherent physical health care.”