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Psychosis tied to Health Risks that Increase Risk of Early Death

Update Date: Oct 08, 2014 04:10 PM EDT

Researchers have studied the relationship between physical and mental health and discovered that many conditions are linked to one another. In a new study, a team examined how psychosis is tied to certain physical health conditions that can increase risk of early death.

For this study, the team headed by Christoph Correll, M.D., of The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine in New York recruited almost 400 patients who had suffered from their first episode of psychosis and received treatment at 34 community-centered clinics throughout 21 states. The patients were between the ages of 15 and 40 and were a part of the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) project.

The researchers compared this sample's health to the general public. Obesity rates between the two groups were relatively the same. However, the patients who suffered from psychosis were more likely to be smokers and have metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of conditions, such as obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The team found that antipsychotic medication used to treat these patients was also tied to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases people's risk of developing diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which then can increase their risk of early death. In order to prevent this and reduce people's risks, the researchers stressed the importance of educating patients about maintaining good health.

"Our results strongly suggest that clinicians need to pay much more attention to promoting physical health in people with severe mental illness," said Correll reported in the press release. "We need to routinely educate patients about healthy lifestyle behaviors, monitor physical health, choose lower risk treatments whenever possible, and manage issues as they arise. Without a combined physical and mental health care approach, we miss major opportunities to improve psychiatric as well as medical health in patients with schizophrenia and other severe conditions."

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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