Sept. 18 (UPI) -- A recent study found that people with schizophrenia are three times more likely to die and die at a younger age compared to the general population.
The study, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, examined 1.6 million deaths in Ontario, Canada, over a 20-year period from 1993 to 2012.
Researchers identified 31,349 deaths of individuals with schizophrenia with more being female, younger and lower-income compared to the general population.
The study found that people with schizophrenia died eight years younger than those in the general population, with the average age at death increasing from 64.7 to 67.4 years of age between 1993 and 2012.
"A gap in life expectancy of this size for any other group of patients might reasonably be expected to lead to correspondingly substantial public health action to redress the health inequality," Dr. Philip Ward, University of New South Wales Sydney, Sydney, Australia, said in a press release. "However, this does not appear to be the case for people with schizophrenia."
Higher mortality risks for people with schizophrenia are possibly due to higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise.
"It's clear that there is not enough evidence to support what we should be doing," Dr. Paul Kurdyak, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, said.
"This study, in addition to documenting astonishingly high mortality rates, also points to an equity issue -- that individuals with schizophrenia are not benefiting from public health and health care interventions to the same degree as individuals without schizophrenia. The complex needs of individuals with schizophrenia and comorbid medical conditions create a tremendous challenge to providers and health care systems more broadly."