The British Journal of Psychiatry
Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication and mortality
MATTI JOUKAMAA, MARKKU HELIÖVAARA, PAUL KNEKT, ARPO AROMAA, RAIMO RAITASALO, VILLE LEHTINEN

Abstract

Background There is an excess of death from natural causes among people with schizophrenia.

Aims Schizophrenia and its treatment with neuroleptics were studied for their prediction of mortality in a representative population sample of 7217 Finns aged ≥ 30 years.

Method A comprehensive health examination was carried out at baseline. Schizophrenia was determined using the Present State Examination and previous medical records.

Results During a 17-year follow-up, 39 of the 99 people with schizophrenia died. Adjusted for age and gender, the relative mortality risk between those with schizophrenia and others was 2.84 (95% CI 2.06–3.90), and was 2.25 (95% CI1.61–3.15) after further adjusting for somatic diseases, bloodpressure, cholesterol, body mass index, smoking, exercise, alcohol intake and education. The number of neuroleptics used at the time of the baseline survey showed a graded relation to mortality. Adjusted for age, gender, somatic diseases and other potential risk factors for premature death, the relative risk was 2.50 (95% CI1.46–4.30) per increment of one neuroleptic.

Conclusions There is an urgent need to ascertain whether the high mortality in schizophrenia is attributable to the disorder itself or the antipsychotic medication.

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