Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Metabolic syndrome and mental illness.

Patients with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have an increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its components, risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Although the prevalence of obesity and other risk factors such as hyperglycemia are increasing in the general population, patients with major mental illnesses have an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and smoking, and substantially greater mortality, compared with the general population. Persons with major mental disorders lose 25 to 30 years of potential life in comparison with the general population, primarily due to premature cardiovascular mortality. The causes of increased cardiometabolic risk in this population can include nondisease-related factors such as poverty and reduced access to medical care, as well as adverse metabolic side effects associated with psychotropic medications, such as antipsychotic drugs. Individual antipsychotic medications are associated with well-defined risks of weight gain and related risks for adverse changes in glucose and lipid metabolism. Based on the medical risk profile of persons with major mental illnesses, and the evidence that certain medications can contribute to increased risk, screening and regular monitoring of metabolic parameters such as weight (body mass index), waist circumference, plasma glucose and lipids, and blood pressure are recommended to manage risk in this population. Treatment decisions should incorporate information about medical risk factors in general and cardiometabolic risk in particular. In addition to the implications for individual clinicians, the problem of disparity in meeting healthcare needs for persons with mental illness in comparison with the general population has become an important public policy concern, with recent recommendations from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and the Institute of Medicine. This article provides an overview of cardiometabolic risk in patients with major mental illness and describes steps for risk reduction.

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