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Increased Mortality Risk for Mentally Ill Diabetics

The combination of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia with diabetes has proven to be more deadly than just having diabetes alone.

A new study conducted by Yana Vinogradova of the University of Nottingham and colleagues concludes these findings also align with previous studies that suggest people with mental health issues are more likely to die prematurely than the general population.

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers write that “no study has examined this in individuals with diabetes.”

Recent findings reported in the July issue of Psychiatric Services by a team of researchers from Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine and Pharmacy revealed that those coping with mental illness lost 14.5 years of “potential life,” dying at an average age of 73.4 years.

To compare survival rates in people with diabetes with and without schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, Vinogradova and team drew a sample of 43,992 people with diabetes from the QRESEARCH database population of over 9 million patients.

An analysis was completed on survival rates and deaths associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder between April 2000 and April 2005. Adjustments were made based on age and gender and additionally for socioeconomic status, obesity, smoking and use of statins.

Out of the sample, 257 people were diagnosed with schizophrenia, 159 with bipolar disorder and 14 were diagnosed with both conditions.

Findings concluded that people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and diabetes, compared with those with diabetes alone, had a significantly increased risk of death after adjusting for age and gender. A total of 8,698 diabetic patients died during the study, including 57 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, 39 diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and one with both conditions.

Hazard ratios were 1.52 for diabetes patients also diagnosed with either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. This was compared to 1.47 for patients with diabetes alone.

The team added that there could be several possible explanations for this difference.

“People with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in addition to diabetes have a relatively higher mortality rate. This suggests that diabetes either progresses more rapidly or is more poorly controlled in these individuals, or that they have higher levels of comorbidity and so are more likely to die of other causes,” researchers concluded.

They added that “these findings demonstrate the importance of good-quality diabetes care for people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”

Currently 7.8 percent of people in the U.S. have diabetes. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates in 2006. The ranking is based on the 72,507 death certificates in 2006 in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death.

It is estimated that approximately 2.4 million American adults 18 or older have schizophrenia, and approximately 5.7 million have bipolar disorder. These numbers equate to nearly four percent of the U.S. population.

Source: British Journal of Psychiatry

Increased Mortality Risk for Mentally Ill Diabetics

Selena Chavis

APA Reference
Chavis, S. (2018). Increased Mortality Risk for Mentally Ill Diabetics. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 8 Oct 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.