A new study of has found that people who are suffering from severe mental illness (SMI), including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression have 53 per cent risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those without mental illness. Researchers have identified some important factors which increase risk for heart disease, including antipsychotic use and higher body mass index. The study suggests that clinicians, where possible, should choose antipsychotics with lower side effects related to weight gain, high blood pressure and glucose abnormalities. The findings highlight the importance of regularly screening severe mental illness patients for cardiovascular risk and also point towards a number of potentially modifiable risk factors. Brendon Stubbs from King’s College London said, “People with SMI (severe mental illness) die much earlier than those without these disorders, yet the majority of these premature deaths may be preventable with care that prioritises lifestyle changes, such as exercise, better nutrition and stopping smoking, along with cautious prescribing of antipsychotics.” This new study of SMI and cardiovascular disease, led by King’s College London, involved over 3.2 million patients and more than 113 million people from the general population. The researchers examined 92 studies across four continents and 16 different countries.

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