How depression may increase heart disease risk

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People with severe mental illness (SMI), including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, have a 53 per cent higher risk for having cardiovascular disease than individuals without mental illness, says a large study of more than 3.2 million people.

The researchers also identified some important factors which increase risk for cardiovascular disease, including antipsychotic use and higher body mass index.

The results suggest that clinicians, where possible, should choose antipsychotics with lower side effects related to weight gain, high blood pressure and glucose abnormalities.

Published online in the journal World Psychiatry, these findings highlight the importance of regularly screening severe mental illness patients for cardiovascular risk and also point towards a number of potentially modifiable risk factors.

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