Cardiovascular disease in patients with schizophrenia

Leonard Kritharides, Vincent Chow and Tim JR Lambert
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00650
Published online: 6 February 2017


  • Patients with schizophrenia die on average 25 years earlier than the general population, and this gap appears to be increasing.
  • Most of the excess mortality is due to premature cardiovascular deaths rather than suicide.
  • Many psychotropic agents are orexigenic and can increase weight and promote dyslipidaemia.
  • Traditional cardiac risk factors are undertreated among patients with schizophrenia, and they are less likely to receive cardiac revascularisation than those without a mental illness.
  • Clozapine is an atypical antipsychotic medication effective for treatment of refractory schizophrenia, but is associated with the risk of myocarditis and cardiomyopathy.
  • Established protocols in Australia screen for myocarditis for patients who are initiating clozapine therapy and for long term monitoring for cardiomyopathy with echocardiography.
  • Coordinated care between tertiary providers, general practitioners and primary health care professionals should monitor the physical health of people with psychosis or schizophrenia at least annually and treatment should be offered accordingly.

  • Leonard Kritharides1,2
  • Vincent Chow1,3
  • Tim JR Lambert3,4

  • 1 Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 ANZAC Research Institute, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 Collaborative Centre for Cardiometabolic Health in Psychosis, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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