Etiology of cardiovascular disease in patients with schizophrenia: current perspectives

Emul M., Kalelioglu T.

NEUROPSYCHIATRIC DISEASE AND TREATMENT, vol.11, pp.2493-2503, 2015 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 11
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.2147/ndt.s50006
  • Page Numbers: pp.2493-2503


Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are important problems among patients with schizophrenia. A wide spectrum of reasons, ranging from genes to the environment, are held responsible for causing the cardiovascular risk factors that may lead to shortening the life expectancy of patients with schizophrenia. Here, we have summarized the etiologic issues related with the cardiovascular risk factors in schizophrenia. First, we focused on heritable factors associated with cardiovascular disease and schizophrenia by mentioning studies about genetics-epigenetics, in the first-episode or drug-naive patients. In this context, the association and candidate gene studies about metabolic disturbances in schizophrenia are reviewed, and the lack of the effects of epigenetic/posttranscriptional factors such as microRNAs is mentioned. Increased rates of type 2 diabetes mellitus and disrupted metabolic parameters in schizophrenia are forcing clinicians to struggle with metabolic syndrome parameters and related issues, which are also the underlying causes for the risk of having cardiometabolic and cardiovascular etiology. Second, we summarized the findings of metabolic syndrome-related entities and discussed the influence of the illness itself, antipsychotic drug treatment, and the possible disadvantageous lifestyle on the occurrence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) or diabetes mellitus. Third, we emphasized on the risk factors of sudden cardiac death in patients with schizophrenia. We reviewed the findings on the arrhythmias such as QT prolongation, which is a risk factor for Torsade de Pointes and sudden cardiac death or P-wave prolongation that is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation. For example, the use of antipsychotics is an important reason for the prolongation of QT and some other cardiac autonomic dysfunctions. Additionally, we discussed relatively rare issues such as myocarditis and cardiomyopathy, which are important for prognosis in schizophrenia that may have originated from the use of antipsychotic medication. In conclusion, we considered that the studies and awareness about physical needs of patients with schizophrenia are increasing. It seems logical to increase cooperation and shared care between the different health care professionals to screen and treat cardiovascular disease (CVD)-risk factors, MetS, and diabetes in patients with psychiatric disorders, because some risk factors of MetS or CVD are avoidable or at least modifiable to decrease high mortality in schizophrenia. We suggested that future research should focus on conducting an integrated system of studies based on a holistic biopsychosocial evaluation.