Purpose of review: To assess the impact of cardiovascular disease on the excess mortality and shortened life expectancy in schizophrenic patients.
Recent findings: Patients with schizophrenia have two-fold to three-fold higher mortality rates compared with the general population, corresponding to a 10-25-year reduction in life expectancy. Although the mortality rate from suicide is high, natural causes of death account for a greater part of the reduction in life expectancy. The reviewed studies suggest four main reasons for the excess mortality and reduced life expectancy. First, persons with schizophrenia tend to have suboptimal lifestyles including unhealthy diets, excessive smoking and alcohol use, and lack of exercise. Second, antipsychotic drugs may have adverse effects. Third, physical illnesses in persons with schizophrenia are common, but diagnosed late and treated insufficiently. Lastly, the risk of suicide and accidents among schizophrenic patients is high.
Summary: Schizophrenia is associated with a substantially higher mortality and curtailed life expectancy partly caused by modifiable risk factors.