The British Journal of Psychiatry
Mortality of a lithium-treated population.
B Norton, L J Whalley


In South-East Scotland, 791 subjects treated with lithium for more than two months during 1967-76 were traced, using public and health service records; 751 were traced alive, 33 had died, and seven remained untraced. The standardised mortality rate was 2.83, and excess mortality was attributable to suicide (increased 36-times) and cardiovascular disease (increased 2.15-times); deaths from nephropathy, cancer or leukaemia were not increased. Comparison of the 33 deaths and 33 matched patients, selected from the 751 survivors, showed that patients dying on lithium were similar in most respects to survivors, but when first starting lithium, they had more signs of physical disease.