BACKGROUND In the past, psychiatric in-patients suffered increased cardiovascular and respiratory mortality. The present study investigated whether increased risks persist among patients in the community and are being addressed in general practice.
METHOD A survey of 101 long-term mentally ill adults in 16 general practices in the South Thames (West) Region.
RESULTS Twenty-six patients were found to be obese (body mass index > 30 kg/m2), 53 were current smokers and 11 were hypertensive (mean systolic blood pressure > 160 mmHg or mean diastolic blood pressure > 100 mmHg, or both). Twenty-one reported daily cough and sputum, 24 shortness of breath, 11 wheezing and seven chest pain on exertion. These rates were significantly higher than population rates in a contemporary national survey. Nearly all the risk factors were recorded in the general practice records but few attempts to intervene were apparent.
CONCLUSIONS Long-term mentally ill patients remain at increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory problems in the community. Primary care teams should make special efforts to tackle risk factors among this group.