Common psychiatric medications double the risk of heart attack and triple the risk of stroke, according to research presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress and reported in theVancouver Sun. Another study reported that mental health patients often receive poor medical care and general health recommendations from their treatment providers, contributing further to their heart problems.
“While evidence linking some antipsychotic medications to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease has grown in recent decades, this is the first time it has been documented nationally,” reported theSun about the research led by a PhD student working with University of British Columbia and the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey by Statistics Canada.
Many psychiatric medications “change the way fats and sugars are broken down in the body leading to high cholesterol or diabetes, which are both contributing causes to heart disease and stroke,” reported the Sun.
High rates of smoking among people taking psychiatric medications, unhealthy eating and physical inactivity exacerbate the problems. Another recent study in Vancouver, the Sun reported, “concluded patients with schizophrenia who develop heart disease rarely receive adequate followup treatment.”
“Fifteen years ago, this wasn’t even considered part of treatment. Now care has to include discussion of metabolic syndrome,” a co-author of that study told the Sun. “All patients should be on an exercise program because that has been shown to have positive impact … Exercise can help reverse the (side) effects of the medication.”