INDIANAPOLIS -- Researchers from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University who followed over 30,000 older adults for a decade have found the rate of dementia diagnosis for patients with schizophrenia to be twice as high as for patients without this chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder.
"Individuals with serious mental illnesses including schizophrenia appear to be living longer than earlier estimates suggested," said Hugh Hendrie, M.B., Ch.B., D.Sc., the geriatric psychiatrist who led the study. Dr. Hendrie is a Regenstrief Institute investigator, IU Center for Aging Research scientist and professor of psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine. "This good news is tempered by the fact that they now have to confront the major disorders of the elderly, including dementia.
"Our finding that there was a significant difference in rates of dementia for those with schizophrenia and those without the disorder was quite unexpected. The reason for this difference is unclear and merits more intensive investigation. Is this related to an increase in dementia-related brain pathology or could it simply represent a misinterpretation of their symptoms by clinicians inexperienced in dealing with individuals who have difficulties communicating and are less likely to have reliable significant others to interpret for them?"
Individuals with schizophrenia also had generally higher rates of other serious illnesses such as heart disease and pulmonary disease, as well as higher mortality rates than those without schizophrenia. A major exception was cancer, for which the rates for individuals with schizophrenia were significantly lower.
According to Dr. Hendrie, previous reports on cancer risk associated with schizophrenia have been inconsistent. While it has been suggested in previous studies that the lower cancer rates for those with schizophrenia were the results of low case identification by physicians, the new study found cancer
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