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Neuro Problems Double the Risk of Heart Attacks, Strokes: Study

Everything stems from the brain and true to its key role, mental illness found in people may also lead to heart diseases, said new research findings by a team at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Medications given to neurological disorders, unhealthy activities and access to health care are three major factors that account for the increased heart attack or stroke risk, the findings showed.

“This population is at high risk, and it is even greater for people with multiple mental health issues,” said lead author of the study Katie Goldie from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto in Canada.

Based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, the researchers focused on people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, major depressive and anxiety disorders. They have studied the psychiatric drugs such as antipsychotic, antidepressant, benzodiazepine and mood-stabilizing medications and found the relationship between the drugs and heart diseases developed in mentally ill patients.

The researchers found that people who have had a mental disorder at any point in their life were twice as likely to have contracted a heart disease or experienced a stroke. Even those who have not contracted a heart disease or a stroke are more likely to be at a high, long-term, risk of developing cardio-vascular disease, compared to the general population., said the study.

People who used psychiatric medications were twice as likely to contract heart disease and three times as likely to experience a stroke compared with those not taking these medications, since these drugs induce weight gain and impair the breakdown of fats and sugars by the body, which in turn leads to obesity, high cholesterol levels and diabetes.

Besides, patients with mental health disorders may also have difficulty communicating their health needs, cautioned the study, which was presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress on Monday.

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