People with mental health disorders are at increased risk for death from chronic health conditions, according to a new study. Photo by cocoparisienne/Pixabay
Jan. 27 (UPI) -- People with mental health disorders are up to twice as likely to die earlier from chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes than those without them, a study published Thursday by PLOS Medicine found.
Among people with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder and schizophrenia, 21% died within five years of being diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes or breathing problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the data showed.
Of those without diagnosed mental health disorders, 9% died within five years of learning they had one of these chronic conditions, the researchers said.
Compared with unaffected siblings, people with mental health disorders were about seven times more likely to die within five years of being diagnosed with a chronic physical health condition and nearly nine times more likely to die by suicide within that time frame, according to the researchers.
Of all the participants in the study, 7% died of any cause within five years of being diagnosed with a chronic condition and 0.3% died by suicide, they said.
"We used electronic health records to investigate over 1 million patients diagnosed with chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes," study co-author Dr. Seena Fazel said in a press release.
"More than 7% of the patients died of any cause within five years and 0.3% died from suicide, risks that were more than doubled in patients with psychiatric comorbidities," said Fazel, a professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Oxford in England.
One in five American adults has a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Recent research has linked inflammation seen in people with mental health disorders with a higher risk for other health problems, including COVID-19.
The findings are based on an analysis of data from national registries in Sweden that included information on more than 1 million people born between 1932 and 1995 who had been diagnosed with chronic lung diseases, heart disease and diabetes.
About one-third of the participants had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder during their lifetimes, the researchers said.
People with substance use disorder were up to 10 times more likely to die within five years of being diagnosed with a chronic physical health condition, the data showed.
In addition, those depression had a seven-fold higher risk for death within five years of receiving a diagnosis.
Improved assessment, treatment and follow-up care for those with mental health disorders could reduce the risk for early death from chronic conditions, Fazel and his colleagues said.