Harvard Mental Health Letter

In brief: Schizophrenia and the metabolic syndrome

In Brief

Schizophrenia and the metabolic syndrome

Results from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) study show that people with schizophrenia, especially women, are exceptionally vulnerable to the metabolic syndrome.

This set of health risks includes at least three of the following:

  1. A waist larger than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

  2. HDL ("good") cholesterol under 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women.

  3. Triglycerides above 150 mg/dL.

  4. Blood pressure above 130/85 mm Hg.

  5. Fasting blood sugar higher than 110 mg/dL (or use of diabetes medicine).

The metabolic syndrome is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It is also extremely common and becoming more so. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 24% of Americans have the syndrome, including 43% of those over age 60.

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