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People with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder, have worse physical health and reduced life expectancy compared to the general population. The excess cardiovascular mortality associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is attributed to an increased risk of the modifiable coronary heart disease risk factors, obesity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidaemia.
Antipsychotic medication and possibly other psychotropic medication like antidepressants can induce weight gain and further increase the risk of adverse metabolic effects which may result in further increased incidence of cardiovascular disease. Patients have limited access to general healthcare with less opportunity for cardiovascular risk screening and prevention than would be expected in a non-psychiatric population.
The European Psychiatric Association (EPA), supported by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) and the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) published this statement aiming to improve the care of patients suffering from severe mental illness. The intention is to initiate co-operation and shared care between the different healthcare professionals and to increase the awareness of psychiatrists caring for patients suffering from severe mental illness to screen and treat increased cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes.