People with severe mental illnesses are 53% more likely to have cardiovascular disease than those without mental illness, say researchers.

The team from King’s College London looked at 3.2 million people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression and found that risk of dying from disease was 85% higher in these people than the general population.

Dr Brendon Stubbs from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, said: “These findings are a stark reminder that people with severe mental illness are being left behind, at a time when the health of the general population as a whole appears to be benefitting from public health initiatives to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease.

“People with severe mental illness die much earlier than those without these disorders, yet the majority of these premature deaths may be preventable with care that prioritises lifestyle changes, such as exercise, better nutrition and stopping smoking, along with cautious prescribing of antipsychotics.”  

This new study is the largest ever meta-analysis of severe mental illness and cardiovascular disease, including over 3.2 million patients and more than 113 million people from the general population.

The researchers examined 92 studies across four continents and 16 different countries, including the US, UK, France, Australia and Sweden.