Leo Sher, M.D.
Psychiatric researchers from Maryland examined determinants of natural cause mortality in individuals with serious mental illness (1). Their research report, “Natural cause mortality in persons with serious mental illness” has been published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica online ahead of print (1).
In all, 789 individuals with schizophrenia and 498 individuals with bipolar disorder were enrolled in the study. All study participants were interviewed and provided a blood sample at the time of the study visit. Blood samples were tested for IgG class antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV‐1), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein–Barr virus nuclear antigen (EBV), human herpesvirus type 6, and Toxoplasma gondii. Information on the date and cause of death was obtained from the National Death Index, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Study participants were followed up for a period of up to 16.9 years.
The authors found that mortality was predicted by baseline cigarette smoking, divorced or widowed status, reduced cognitive score, receipt of antidepressant medication, elevated levels of antibodies to Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), and a genitourinary, respiratory, or cardiac condition. Smoking more than doubles the risk of natural cause death. The authors suggest that smoking is a modifiable risk factor which is associated with mortality in patients with severe mental illness and that smoking cessation treatments of individuals with severe mental illness should be an important priority.
- Dickerson F, Origoni A, Schroeder J, Adamos M, Katsafanas E, Khushalani S, Savage CLG, Schweinfurth LAB, Stallings C, Sweeney K, Yolken R. Natural cause mortality in persons with serious mental illness. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2018 Mar 30. doi: 10.1111/acps.12880. [Epub ahead of print]