Researchers in the UK say psychiatrists need to improve how they monitor common metabolic conditions.

Some metabolic conditions are common among patients with mental illness. Antipsychotic medications are also known to cause a host of medical complications.

For example, 60 percent of individuals receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia have high cholesterol, 40 percent have high blood pressure, and 30 percent exhibit metabolic syndrome.

Some experts estimate that 90 percent of patients treated with antipsychotic medication have at least one metabolic risk factor. Given this, there are strong reasons why patients under psychiatric care should be offered regular monitoring.

Researchers reviewed 48 studies (involving almost 300,000 individuals) conducted during 2000-2011 in five countries.

Findings are published in the online in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Researchers found that psychiatrists were monitoring blood pressure and triglycerides in more than half of patients who were under psychiatric care. However, cholesterol, glucose and weight checks were offered to less than half.

Monitoring was similar in US and UK studies and for both inpatients and outpatients.

According to Dr. Alex Mitchell, a consultant and a researcher at the University of Leicester, “This study highlights that psychiatrists are not always considering the metabolic complications of prescribed medication. Several guidelines highlight the need for regular medical checks but even after the release of guidelines, monitoring rates have remained low especially for those checks that need a blood test.

“Even in the most recent studies about a quarter of patients don’t receive weight or blood pressure checks. One explanation is that responsibility is often lost between psychiatry and general practice. We recommend that mental health providers schedule physical health checks as a mandatory part of routine care.”

Source: University of Leicester