Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in Danish psychiatric outpatients treated with antipsychotics

Nord J Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;65(5):345-52. doi: 10.3109/08039488.2011.565799. Epub 2011 Mar 24.


Background: The incidence of the metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is increasing worldwide and is suggested to be higher among psychiatric patients, especially those on antipsychotic treatment.

Aims: To assess the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in Danish psychiatric outpatients and compare it with the general population.

Methods: In a cross-sectional, observational study in 2007-08, 170 Danish outpatients on antipsychotic drug treatment were monitored for the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome based on the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definition and compared with a general population group of 3303 randomly selected Danes.

Results: Of the antipsychotic-treated patients 48.2% fulfilled the IDF criteria for the metabolic syndrome, compared with 29.6% of the general population. The antipsychotic-treated patients had higher rates of increased waist circumference, triglyceride and glucose levels, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Compared with the general population, the odds ratio (OR) of the metabolic syndrome among antipsychotic-treated patients was 2.2. After adjustment for age and sex, the OR increased to 2.7. In the antipsychotic-treated group, statistically different rates of the metabolic syndrome for patients in monopharmacy vs. polypharmacy, and for patients in monotherapy with first-generation vs. second-generation antipsychotics, could not be found.

Conclusion: The metabolic syndrome is highly prevalent among a Danish outpatient population treated with antipsychotics compared with the general population. Monitoring of lipid and glucose levels, blood pressure and waist circumference before start-up and during treatment with antipsychotic medication is of pivotal importance in order to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease in this patient population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / chemically induced
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Triglycerides / therapeutic use


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Triglycerides