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Cardiovascular effects of psychotic illnesses and antipsychotic therapy

Abstract

Mortality from cardiovascular disease is increased in people with mental health disorders in general and schizophrenia in particular. The causes are multifactorial, but it is known that antipsychotic medication can cause cardiac side-effects beyond the traditional coronary risk factors. Schizophrenia itself is a contributor to an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality via cardiac autonomic dysfunction and a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome, both contributing to a reduced life expectancy. The pro-arrhythmic impact of traditional antipsychotics, especially via the hERG-potassium channel, has been known for several years. Newer antipsychotics have a reduced pro-arrhythmic profile but might contribute to higher cardiac death rates by worsening the metabolic profile. Clozapine-induced cardiomyopathy, which is dose independent, is a further concern and continuous monitoring of these patients is required. Prophylaxis with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors is currently under review. Overall, management of cardiovascular risk within this population group must be multifaceted and nuanced to allow the most effective treatment of serious mental illness to be conducted within acceptable parameters of cardiovascular risk; some practical measures are presented for the clinical cardiologist.

  • cardiac risk factors and prevention
  • electrophysiology
  • metabolic syndrome
  • metabolic heart disease
  • drug interactions
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