Battles of the mind: Schizophrenia may up death risk by three-fold


People suffering from schizophrenia are three times more likely to die, and die younger, than the general population, indicating a need for solutions to narrow this gap, new research says.

Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly. The findings showed that people who died from schizophrenia were often younger, female and from the rural population. Further, despite increases in life expectancy, people with schizophrenia died eight years younger than the general population. Age at death increased from an average of 64.7 to 67.4 years of age among people with schizophrenia compared with 73.3 to 76.7 years in the general population.

Circulatory Disease or cardiovasular diseases that are heart conditions which include diseased vessels, structural problems and blood clots were identified as the leading cause of death among those with schizophrenia. The study showed that people with schizophrenia have not benefited from reductions in cardiovascular deaths seen in the general population.
“More effort is required to reduce the considerable disparity in both mortality and illness burden in schizophrenic patients,” Kurdyak added. For the study, published in the Journal CMAJ, the team looked at all deaths in Ontario over a 20-year period – more than 1.6 million deaths – to understand trends in schizophrenia and others.

While death from all causes decreased 35 % in parallel in both groups, the mortality rate, however, was three-fold higher among people with schizophrenia. Access to health care and lifestyle, such as higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diets and lack of exercise may also explain the higher mortality risk for people with schizophrenia.

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