Schizophrenic people three times likelier to die than general population

ANI | Updated: Sep 18, 2017 13:44 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Sep 18 (ANI): Turns out, people with schizophrenia run a threefold risk of dying earlier than the population at large.

A study looked at all deaths in Ontario over a 20-year period (1993-2012) -- more than 1.6 million deaths to understand trends in schizophrenia. Of these, 31 349 were deaths of people with schizophrenia and more were female, younger and living in lower-income neighbourhoods compared with the general population.

Despite increases in life expectancy, people with schizophrenia died 8 years younger than the general population (age at death increased from an average of 64.7 to 67.4 years of age from 1993 to 2012 among people with schizophrenia compared with 73.3 to 76.7 years in general population). Death from all causes decreased 35% in parallel in both groups.

Previous studies identified people with schizophrenia using hospital admissions, which biases towards more severe illness or use a severe mental illness category that includes illnesses other than schizophrenia. In Ontario, researchers have developed methods and have access to data that allow for more comprehensive and more accurate analysis about the relation between schizophrenia and mortality.

"It's clear that there is not enough evidence to support what we should be doing," said Dr Paul Kurdyak, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario. "This study, in addition to documenting astonishingly high mortality rates, also points to an equity issue that individuals with schizophrenia are not benefiting from public health and health care interventions to the same degree as individuals without schizophrenia. The complex needs of individuals with schizophrenia and comorbid medical conditions create a tremendous challenge to providers and health care systems more broadly."

People with schizophrenia have not benefited from reductions in cardiovascular deaths seen in the general population. Access to health care and lifestyle, such as higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diets and lack of exercise may explain the higher mortality risk for people with schizophrenia.

The study concluded that although there have been numerous calls to action to help individuals with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, to manage chronic medical illnesses, and although the declining trends and narrowing absolute gap that we observed are positive developments, more effort is required to reduce the considerable disparity in both mortality and illness burden.

The study is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). (ANI)

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