Feature Article

A healthy heart in mind: defusing a cardiometabolic time bomb in mental illness

Katherine Samaras, Jackie Curtis



Mental illness appears to confer a particular susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. Reasons for this include lifestyle factors, as well as high rates of weight gain and susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, which are related to the presence of schizophrenia and mood disorders, and their treatment per se.

Key Points

  • It is important to screen for cardiometabolic risk factors in people with mental illness.
  • Diagnostic and treatment standards can be used as for any member of the community.
  • Addressing cigarette smoking, weight or central abdominal weight gain, hypertension, and serum lipid and blood glucose level abnormalities are important in these patients.
  • Preventing weight gain with an active lifestyle intervention will minimise metabolic complications.
  • The special needs of the individual person should be considered when advising lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity.