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Articles

Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Sudden Death in Schizophrenia

Michael Davidson, MD

Published: September 1, 2002

Article Abstract

Patients with schizophrenia are at higher risk for medical illnesses than people in the general population.Electrocardiographic and metabolic abnormalities that occur in patients with schizophrenia whoare treated with antipsychotic medications have raised concerns about the safety of these medications.Concerns are amplified by the increased risk of atherosclerosis and sudden cardiac death in patientswith schizophrenia regardless of the effect of antipsychotic agents. Because the modifiable risk factorsfor coronary atherosclerosis and sudden death are so prevalent within the schizophrenic population,it is important for clinicians treating patients with schizophrenia to know what these risks are andunderstand how they can contribute to increased mortality in these patients. The increased risk ofatherosclerosis and sudden death in the schizophrenic population highlights a need for preventive services,which is further underscored by the numerous system- and patient-related barriers to preventivetreatment. Clinicians must not only be aware of the modifiable risk factors, but they must also learn tomanage the obstacles to prevention in conjunction with other health care specialists.


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