Background: Second generation antipsychotics (SGA) have demonstrated several advantages over first generation antipsychotics (FGA) in terms of positive, negative, cognitive, and affective symptoms and a lower propensity for extrapyramidal side effects. Despite these undeniable advantages, SGA have been associated with causing and exacerbating metabolic disorders, such as obesity, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. This cross sectional study aimed to evaluate the metabolic risk factor profile associated with use of SGAs in comparison with non -treated control patients.
Methods: The study was carried out at a Community Mental Health Centre (CMHC) in Bologna. The study subjects were outpatients with serious mental disorders treated with SGA (clozapine, olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine). A sample of adult men and women suffering from idiopathic hyperhydrosis, without psychiatric history or antipsychotic treatment, were randomly selected from outpatients of the Department of Neurology in Bologna as a reference group. We investigated differences among the treatment and reference groups for glycaemia, cholesterolaemia and triglyceridaemia levels.
Results: The study sample was composed of 76 patients, 38 males and 38 females. The reference group was composed of 36 subjects, 19 females and 17 males. All patients treated with SGAs had higher mean glycaemia and triglyceridaemia and a significantly higher risk of receiving a diagnosis of hyperglycaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia than the reference group. We did not find any differences in mean glycaemia or mean triglyceridaemia levels among treatment groups. Patients with clozapine had a significantly higher mean BMI value and rate of obesity than patients treated with other SGAs.
Conclusion: The rate of obesity and metabolic disorders observed in this study were higher than the prevalence in the control group and similar to that previously reported in psychiatric samples; these findings imply per se that more attention should be paid to the metabolic condition of psychiatric patients. In line with the International Consensus Conferences we recommend that monitoring of weight, fasting plasma glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels be obtained in routine clinical practice with all antipsychotics.