OBJECTIVE: Standardized mortality rates are elevated in schizophrenia compared to the general population. The incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) and the relative contribution of CHD to increased mortality in schizophrenia patients are not clear, despite recent concerns about metabolic complications of certain atypical antipsychotics.
METHOD: Ten-year risk for CHD was calculated for 689 subjects who participated in the Clinical Trials of Antipsychotic Treatment Effectiveness (CATIE) Schizophrenia Trial at baseline using the Framingham CHD risk function and were compared with age-, race- and gender-matched controls from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III.
RESULTS: Ten-year CHD risk was significantly elevated in male (9.4% vs. 7.0%) and female (6.3% vs. 4.2%) schizophrenia patients compared to controls (p = 0.0001). Schizophrenia patients had significantly higher rates of smoking (68% vs. 35%), diabetes (13% vs. 3%), and hypertension (27% vs. 17%) and lower HDL cholesterol levels (43.7 vs. 49.3 mg/dl) compared to controls (p < 0.001). Only total cholesterol levels did not differ between groups. Ten-year CHD risk remained significantly elevated in schizophrenia patients after controlling for body mass index (p = 0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: These results are consistent with recent evidence of increased cardiac mortality in schizophrenia patients. While the impact of cigarette smoking is clear, the relative contributions to cardiac risk of specific antipsychotic agents, diet, exercise, and quality of medical care remain to be clarified.