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Serious neuropsychiatric disorders increase the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

People who have serious neuropsychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder, are more likely to die of premature causes than their peers, often as much as 10 to 20 years earlier. Findings presented in a recent report suggest that people with serious neuropsychiatric disorders have an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is a large class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels, including stroke, hypertension, thrombosis, heart failure, atherosclerosis, and others. A principal driver of cardiovascular disease is inflammation. Interestingly, robust evidence indicates that inflammation and neuropsychiatric disorders are also linked, and the two demonstrate a bidirectional relationship. For example, people who have depression tend to have high levels of systemic inflammation, and depression induces chronic activation of the immune system, driving inflammation.

The authors of the report analyzed the medical records of nearly 600,000 people between the ages of 18 and 75 years. They calculated the participants' 10-year and 30-year cardiovascular disease risk using the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk score for adults aged 40 to 75 years and the Framingham risk score for adults aged 18 to 59 years, respectively. They also identified participants who had been diagnosed with a serious neuropsychiatric disorder and collected participants' demographic data.

They found that both the 10‐year and 30-year cardiovascular risk among participants with serious neuropsychiatric disorders was higher than among participants without, even after taking age, sex, race, and ethnicity into account. The primary contributors to the increased risk were higher body mass index and smoking. Participants with bipolar disorder were more likely to have higher 10-year risk; those with schizoaffective disorder were more likely to have higher 30-year risk.

These findings suggest that having a serious neuropsychiatric disorder increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and this risk is evident in early adulthood. Check out our overview articles to learn how lifestyle habits that reduce inflammation, such as aerobic exercise, sauna use, and cold exposure, may reduce cardiovascular disease risk and improve mental health status.

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