Heart disease: Mental disorders doubling risk associated with ‘higher all-cause mortality’

Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk

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Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect a person’s heart. Several health conditions increase a person’s risk of the potentially life-threatening condition including your lifestyle, age and family history. A new study has shed a light on how your mental health shockingly doubles your risk.

According to a new study published in PLOS Medicine, those suffering with chronic, non-communicable diseases had double the risk of cardiovascular diseases if they also have a psychiatric comorbidity.

Comorbidities are more than one disorder in the same person.

An example of this would include if a person is diagnosed with both social anxiety disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), they are said to have comorbid disorder of anxiety and depressive disorders.

The research, led by Seena Fazel of the University of Oxford UK, the link between psychiatric disorders and its increased risk of heart disease was investigated.

In the new study, researchers used national registers in Sweden to investigate more than one million patients born between 1932 and 1995 who had diagnoses of chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

More than a quarter (25 to 32 percent) of people in the analysis had a co-occurring lifetime diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder.

Within five years of diagnosis, seven percent of the people included in the study had died from any cause and 0.3 percent had died from suicide.

Comorbid psychiatric disorders were associated with higher all-cause mortality when compared to those without such conditions.

“Improving assessment, treatment, and follow-up of people with comorbid psychiatric disorders may reduce the risk of mortality in people with chronic non-communicable diseases,” the authors said.

Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are a global public health challenge accounting for an estimated 40 million excess deaths annually. 

The research reveals how those having some type of psychiatric disorder further perpetuates this statistic.

Further stressing the importance for mental health issues to be recognised and treated as such.

“We used electronic health records to investigate over one million patients diagnosed with chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes,” said Fazel.

“More than seven percent of the patients died of any cause within five years and 0.3 percent died from suicide – risks that were more than doubled in patients with psychiatric comorbidities compared to those without such comorbidities.”

Depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder (BPD), as well as other mental disorders such as anxiety disorders have been associated with a range of behaviours that may increase the risk of cardiac morbidity and mortality.

People experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over a long period of time may experience certain physiologic effects on the body, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the heart, and heightened levels of cortisol.

If concerned about your mental health, it is imperative to speak with a professional or your GP for help.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

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