People suffering from psychosis, a mental health problem that causes people to lose contact with reality, are likely to have high levels of cardiovascular risk factors such as excessive fat around the stomach, suggests a new research.
The two main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions where a person believes things that are obviously untrue.
In the largest study of its kind in Britain, drawing on a sample of more than 400 outpatients with psychosis, the researchers found central obesity evident in over 80% of participants.
"While previous research has demonstrated that people gain weight on starting anti-psychotics, our study of people who have had psychosis for nearly 16 years on average found no difference in the rates of cardiovascular risk between the various different anti-psychotic medications," said senior author Fiona Gaughran from King's College London.
The researchers found that 48% of the study participants were obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Additionally, nearly all women and many men had a waist circumference above the International Diabetes Federation's (IDF) threshold for central obesity.
According to this measure 83 percent of patients were centrally obese: 95% of females and 74% of males. Central obesity refers to excessive fat around the stomach and abdomen, to the extent that it is likely to have a negative impact on health.
The majority of participants tested (57%) met the IDF's criteria for metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of biochemical and physiological abnormalities associated with the development of heart disease, stroke and Type-2 diabetes.
"The worryingly high levels of cardiovascular risk shown in our study indicate that a much greater emphasis on physical activity is needed for those with severe mental illnesses, as well as a more significant focus on supporting attempts to quit smoking," Gaughran noted.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine