London: People with schizophrenia are at a higher risk for heart attack than those not saddled with the condition, according to a new study. On average, people with schizophrenia have a lifespan 20 years shorter than the general population.

This is partly due to factors such as smoking, increased rates of diabetes, and metabolic problems brought on by the use of some antipsychotic medications.

These factors often worsen once a cardiac condition arises because people with schizophrenia are less likely to make the necessary lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to offset the problem.

This study examined mortality and access to cardiac care after heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction) in those with schizophrenia.

Dr. Paul Kurdyak, Chief, Division of General and Health Systems Psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, analyzed four years of Ontario-wide patient data and tracked all incidents of heart attack among people with schizophrenia, and compared results to people without schizophrenia.

"When we looked at the data, we found that people with schizophrenia were 56 per cent more likely to die after discharge from hospital following a heart attack than those who did not have schizophrenia," Dr. Kurdyak said.

Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences said. "We also found that patients with schizophrenia, despite the increase in mortality risk after a heart attack, were half as likely to receive life-saving cardiac procedures and care from cardiologists than those without schizophrenia." The study has been published online in Schizophrenia Research.


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