Serious mental health issues could double risk of heart disease, study finds

According to a new study, people with serious mental health problems are at greater risk of heart disease. File photo by hywards/Shutterstock

People with serious mental illness have up to twice the risk of heart disease and should have their heart health monitored from an early age, a new study has found.

Specifically, these mental health conditions are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

“Previous research has indicated that people diagnosed with serious mental illness die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population, and their leading cause of death is heart disease,” said lead author Dr Rebecca. Rossom.

“Our study focused on the contribution of cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, body mass index and smoking status, to compare the overall risk of heart disease in people with and without serious mental illness,” explained Rossom, a senior behavioral health researcher at the Center for Chronic Care Innovation at the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis.

Earlier detection and treatment of major risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure in young adults with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, researchers say -emotional could reduce their future risk of heart disease.

Bipolar disorder causes unusual changes in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and ability to perform daily tasks, while schizophrenia can cause hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech, according to the US National Institute of Mental Health.

Schizoaffective disorder involves both a major mood disorder – manic or depressive – and schizophrenia.

In this study, researchers assessed the 10- and 30-year risk of heart disease in nearly 600,000 adults, ages 18 to 75, who visited primary care clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin between January 2016 and September 2018.

Almost 2% of adults had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Of these, 70% had bipolar disorder, 18% had schizoaffective disorder, and 12% had schizophrenia.

In adults with one of these mental illnesses, the estimated 10-year risk of heart disease was nearly 10% and the 30-year risk of heart disease was 25%, compared to 8% and 11%, respectively, in those without severe disease. mental illness.

The increased risk of heart disease was evident even in young adults – ages 18 to 34 – with serious mental illness.

People with bipolar disorder had a higher 10-year risk of heart disease than those with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, while people with schizoaffective disorder had a higher 30-year risk of heart disease than the other two groups.

Smoking and obesity were major risk factors for heart disease in adults with serious mental illness. They were three times more likely to be current smokers (36%) and significantly more likely to be obese (50%) than those without serious mental illness (12% and 36%, respectively).

Researchers also found that adults with severe mental illness had twice the rate of diabetes than mentally healthy people, while 15% of adults with severe mental illness had high blood pressure. compared to 13% of those without serious mental illness.

The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Even at a younger age, people with severe mental illness had a higher risk of heart disease than their peers, underscoring the importance of addressing cardiovascular risk factors as early as possible for these individuals.” , Rossom said in a press release.

“We encourage health systems and clinicians to use the 30-year cardiovascular risk estimates for young adults with severe mental illness, as they can be used from age 18,” she said.

“Right now, 10-year heart disease risk estimates are the most commonly used, and they can’t be applied until people are at least 40, which is too late to start treating heart disease. risk of heart disease in people with severe mental illness,” Rossom said. Noted.

More information

The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to a healthy heart.

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