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Educational Activity

Series Introduction and Cardiovascular Disease in Patients With Schizophrenia

Charles H. Hennekens, MD, and John W. Newcomer, MD

Published: May 15, 2007

Article Abstract

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Persons with schizophrenia and other mental illnessexperience a markedly shorter life expectancy than the general population. Althoughthis difference has often been attributed to suicide, cardiovascular disease isin fact the leading cause of death for patients with mental illness.Cardiovascular disease, which is also the leading cause of death for thegeneral population in the United States, is projected to become the worldwideleading cause of death by 2020. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease includeobesity, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cigarettesmoking. Patients with schizophrenia experience high rates of cardiovasculardisease in part because they have higher rates of obesity, dyslipidemia,diabetes, and smoking. In addition to treating the psychiatric conditions ofpatients, clinicians should particularly monitor their patients for cardiovascularrisk.

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