People who suffer from schizophrenia have three times higher risk of death and are more likely to die younger, a study has found. The study looked at all deaths in Ontario in Canada 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 eight 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 per cent in parallel in both groups. High death rates among people with schizophrenia have also been shown in previous small studies and those from other countries such as Scandinavia and Australia. “This study 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,” said Paul Kurdyak, from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Canada. “The complex needs of individuals with schizophrenia and comorbid medical conditions create a tremendous challenge to providers and health care systems more broadly,” said Kurdyak. 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.

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