Context: Excess mortality from heart disease is observed in patients with severe mental disorder. This excess mortality may be rooted in adverse effects of pharmacological or psychotropic treatment, lifestyle factors, or inadequate somatic care.
Objectives: To examine whether persons with severe mental disorder, defined as persons admitted to a psychiatric hospital with bipolar affective disorder, schizoaffective disorder, or schizophrenia, are in contact with hospitals and undergoing invasive procedures for heart disease to the same degree as the nonpsychiatric general population, and to determine whether they have higher mortality rates of heart disease.
Design, setting, and participants: A population-based cohort of 4.6 million persons born in Denmark was followed up from 1994 to 2007. Rates of mortality, somatic contacts, and invasive procedures were estimated by survival analysis.
Main outcome measures: Incidence rate ratios of heart disease admissions and heart disease mortality as well as probability of invasive cardiac procedures.
Results: The incidence rate ratio of heart disease contacts in persons with severe mental disorder compared with the rate for the nonpsychiatric general population was only slightly increased, at 1.11 (95% confidence interval, 1.08-1.14). In contrast, their excess mortality rate ratio from heart disease was 2.90 (95% confidence interval, 2.71-3.10). Five years after the first contact for somatic heart disease, the risk of dying of heart disease was 8.26% for persons with severe mental disorder (aged <70 years) but only 2.86% in patients with heart disease who had never been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The fraction undergoing invasive procedures within 5 years was reduced among patients with severe mental disorder as compared with the nonpsychiatric general population (7.04% vs 12.27%, respectively).
Conclusions: Individuals with severe mental disorder had only negligible excess rates of contact for heart disease. Given their excess mortality from heart disease and lower rates of invasive procedures after first contact, it would seem that the treatment for heart disease offered to these individuals in Denmark is neither sufficiently efficient nor sufficiently intensive. This undertreatment may explain part of their excess mortality.