Patients with schizophrenia have excess cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Previous studies suggest that this may be partly due to inadequate somatic treatment and care, such as non-optimal use of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive pharmacotherapy, but longitudinal studies on such aetiological pathways are scarce.
We investigated the use of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive pharmacotherapy, and the risk of hospitalization for and death from coronary heart
disease and stroke among patients with schizophrenia in a birth cohort of 12 939 subjects (Helsinki Birth Cohort Study). This cohort was followed for over 30 adult years by using national databases on cardio- and cerebrovascular hospitalizations and mortality and on reimbursement entitlements and use of drugs for treatment of hypertension, dyslipidaemia, coronary heart
disease and diabetes.
Individuals with schizophrenia had a higher risk of hospitalization for coronary heart
disease [hazard ratio (HR) 1.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03-2.57], and mortality from this
disease was markedly higher (HR 2.92, 95% CI 1.70-5.00), particularly among women (p=0.001 for women, p=0.008 for men). Women with schizophrenia had also marginally increased stroke mortality (p=0.06). However, patients with schizophrenia used less lipid-lowering (odds ratio 0.47, 95% CI 0.27-0.80) and antihypertensive drug treatment (HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.22-0.61).
In this longitudinal study, coronary heart
disease morbidity was increased and coronary heart
disease mortality markedly increased in patients, especially in women with schizophrenia. These patients nevertheless received less antihypertensive and lipid-lowering treatment.