Can people die of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can be fatal

Most schizophrenics don't die of suicide, but of classics such as heart attacks, strokes or lung cancer - just on average much earlier than mentally healthy people. One reason is the often unhealthy lifestyle. Around two thirds of those with schizophrenia smoke. The result: the cancer rate has also doubled. And about ten times more schizophrenics die from COPD compared to the general population.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in schizophrenics. These can only be partially attributed to smoking, lack of exercise or poor diet. So there must be something else behind the lower life expectancy.

Later diagnosis

Psychiatrist Alkomiet Hasan from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich suspects that tumors and heart conditions in schizophrenics are later recognized. On the one hand because patients go to the doctor less often, on the other hand because they often describe their symptoms differently and thus make the diagnosis more difficult for the doctor.

Regular cardiovascular examinations, nutritional advice or special sports offers could help, says Hasan. So far, such programs for schizophrenia patients have only been available at special clinics.

Another world

People with schizophrenia live in a different world: the disease changes their perception, thoughts and behavior. Patients are temporarily unable to identify what is really happening and what is going on in their head. Typical are, for example, hearing voices or the feeling of being followed. About one percent of the population develops schizophrenia. The mental disorder usually breaks out relatively early, between the ages of 20 and 30. Men and women are equally affected. (from)

Source: Olfson M. et al .: Premature Mortality Among Adults With Schizophrenia in the United States, JAMA Psychiatry. 2015; 72 (12): 1172-1181. doi: 10.1001 / jamapsychiatry.2015.1737.

Doctors Zeitung: Why schizophrenia can be fatal, May 9, 2016

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