A Harvard study has found that people with schizophrenia are more likely to die of heart disease than other people.
The study has found that schizophrenics are less likely to receive good preventive care for their heart problems, in large part because they are more likely to see a psychiatrist than a primary care physician or cardiologist putting more burden for assessing and monitoring heart health on the mental health team or on patients and families.
The other important factor for hindering the preventive care is medication non-compliance.
The research points out that at least half of people with schizophrenia would stop taking antipsychotic medication at some point, so clinicians might assume that compliance with other medications would also be poor.
The Harvard Mental Health Letter suggested that with the following ways people with schizophrenia could lower their heart risk, with assistance from clinicians and loved ones.
The ways includeŚcontrolling the food environment, i.e. advocating for healthier choices in institutional settings, such as group homes and day treatment programs and keeping healthier foods at home. Being, aware of liquid calories, i.e. considering a low-calorie alternative to soda, preferably water.
The Letter also suggested that family members and clinicians should not turn a blind eye when people with schizophrenia adopt detrimental health habits, such as smoking or indulging in high-calorie foods, simply because these patients face other difficult challenges.
The study is published in the November 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.