Harvard Mental Health Letter

Protecting the heart while treating the mind

Preventing and treating heart disease in people with schizophrenia

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and it's about twice as deadly for people with schizophrenia compared with other Americans. While roughly 30% of people in the general population die from heart attacks or other complications of heart disease, anywhere from 50% to 75% of people with schizophrenia do.

Researchers have grappled with finding ways to improve outcomes, and have come up with guidelines to assess and reduce cardiac risk factors in people with schizophrenia. But the real challenge may be in getting clinicians, patients, and family members to recognize the seriousness of this health threat and take steps to address it.

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