Schizophrenia, bipolar increase cardiovascular risk

Dr. Rossom told Medical News Today:

“Some of the challenges involved in supporting the overall health of people with [serious mental health conditions] include patients and clinicians not being aware of the increased medical risks that people with [these conditions] carry (including an elevated risk of CV disease).”

Other challenges include “not recognizing how some of our treatments can increase these risks (including some medications used to treat [mental health conditions], which can increase cardiometabolic risk), and not feeling able to meaningfully intervene even when these increased risks are recognized.”

“All of these issues can lead to disparities in health outcomes,” summarized Dr. Rossom.

Therefore, as clinical professor René Ernst Nielsen, of Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark, who was not involved in the study, explained to MNT:

“These patients should perhaps be seen as at special risk, and the level for initiating diagnostic procedures, prophylactic treatment, treatment of risk factors and treatment of existing conditions should perhaps be reduced.”

Prof. Nielsen also pointed out the “risk of diagnostic overshadowing — when the patient is seen by the psychiatrist, the focus is mainly [or] only on the psychiatric symptoms, and physical health is neglected. Similarly, when a patient with a serious mental health condition is seen in the ER, there is an increased risk of interpreting the symptoms as [being] caused by the serious mental health condition.”

“There might be,” added Prof. Nielsen, “a negative attitude toward patients with serious mental health conditions.”

He explained, “They may be perceived as more dangerous, not easy to talk to, and less able to report relevant information, which might be caused by clinicians’ lack of knowledge concerning mental disorders.”