Cardiovascular effects of antipsychotics

Expert Rev Neurother. 2007 Jul;7(7):829-39. doi: 10.1586/14737175.7.7.829.


There is great concern over cardiovascular disease in the schizophrenic population owing to the high incidence of cardiovascular mortality. Increased cardiovascular mortality is related to lifestyle choices (e.g., smoking and sedentary lifestyle) and a high prevalence of comorbid medical conditions, including dyslipidemia, the metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. One factor that increases cardiovascular risk is the medications used to treat the core features of schizophrenia. Adverse cardiovascular effects of antipsychotic treatment have been recognized for many decades, especially tachycardia, orthostatic hypotension and rare instances of sudden death; but, since 2000, there has been a significant shift in the focus of risk perception. The older antipsychotic literature is replete with papers primarily concerned with the physiological consequences of muscarinic cholinergic antagonism, alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonism or receptors associated with cardiac conduction, but the current literature recognizes that, for most antipsychotic-exposed patients, the more significant cardiovascular burden of treatment is mediated by metabolic adverse effects such as weight gain, dyslipidemia and diabetes mellitus. The purpose of this review is to examine the cardiovascular risks of treatment with antipsychotic medications, elucidating relevant mechanisms and differences between various agents, especially for metabolic adverse effects seen with atypical antipsychotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cardiomyopathies / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / chemically induced
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / chemically induced
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Myocarditis / chemically induced
  • Tachycardia / chemically induced


  • Antipsychotic Agents