Not Enough Psychiatric Patients Are Screened for Metabolic Syndrome

A study published in BMJ Open suggests that screening for metabolic syndrome among patients taking antipsychotic medications occurs far less frequently than recommended by the guidelines. While a quality improvement program (QIP) at the center of the research may have been partly responsible for a significant improvement in screening for metabolic syndrome in the United Kingdom, there is still a significant gap in screening for these susceptible patients. Among the many troubling aspects of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses is the fact that mortality due to physical illness is significantly higher than in the healthy population. Patients suffering from schizophrenia have mortality rates 2 to 3 times higher than the general population, and life expectancy is shorted by 15 to 20 years. The researchers note that approximately 60% of this excess mortality is due to physical illness and is due, in part, to the fact that physical illnesses in these patients may be under-diagnosed and/or sub-optimally treated. Other reasons include illness-related factors such as physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and poor diet.