Schizophrenia, its treatment and the lifestyle of sufferers contribute to high rates of illness and mortality. Sufferers often have poorer diets, lower rates of physical activity and smoke more than the general population. Such lifestyle 'choices' predispose them to poor physical health and diseases.
Schizophrenia is a disabling mental illness where disordered thinking disturbs an individual's ability to function normally in society. It affects around one in 100 people across Europe. 10-13% of people with schizophrenia commit suicide but most of the excess mortality in schizophrenia is from natural causes.
Cardio-vascular risk factors in people with schizophrenia are a consequence of the illness itself, related behaviours, lifestyle and treatments. It is important that mental health and primary care services appreciate the risks they face and how the illness contributes to premature death.
Excessive body weight increases the risk of ill health, and is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes caused by antipsychotics. Sufferers are also predisposed to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems and some cancers.
Research has shown that people with schizophrenia are more obese than the non-schizophrenic population. Weight loss interventions for people with schizophrenia should start with regular and frequent weight monitoring and address exercise, and lifestyle advice. Switching of antipsychotic medication to one with less-tendency for weight gain and the use of specific anti-obesity drugs could also help combat obesity in patients.