University of Oulu

Hyperlipidemia and metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia : a study of the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort

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Author: Saari, Kaisa1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health Science and General Practice
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2005
Publish Date: 2005-05-31
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Väinö Pääkkönen Hall of the Department of Psychiatry, on June 10th, 2005, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Preben Bo Mortensen
Professor Leo Niskanen


Schizophrenia is associated with a shortened life expectancy and increased somatic comorbidity with e.g. cardiovascular disorders. The purpose of this study was to evaluate hyperlipidemia and metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia and thus find specific risk factors for excess mortality and morbidity.

The study population was a subsample of the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort, a general population-based birth cohort. In 1997, 8,463 members of the cohort were invited to a clinical examination, where e.g. blood samples were taken after an overnight fast. Total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides (TG) were determined. The following psychiatric diagnostic categories were used: 1) DSM-III-R schizophrenia (n = 31), 2) other psychoses (n = 21), 3) non-psychotic disorders (n = 104), 4) comparison group (n = 5,498), having no psychiatric hospital treatment.

Mean TC (5.5 mmol/l) and TG (1.5 mmol/l) were significantly higher in the schizophrenia group than in the comparison group (5.1 mmol/l and 1.2 mmol/l, respectively).

To evaluate serum lipid levels in subjects with and without antipsychotic medication the sample was analyzed according to used medication. The prevalence of hypercholesterolemia, high LDL cholesterol and hypertriglyceridemia was high in persons using antipsychotic medication (31%, 20% and 22%, respectively) compared to persons without such medication (12%, 10% and 7%, respectively).

We found higher triglyceride levels in patients who were ≤ 20 years old at the onset of schizophrenia (mean 1.7 mmol/l; N = 17) as compared with patients with later onset (mean 1.4 mmol/l; N = 14) or non-hospitalized controls (mean 1.2 mmol/l; N = 5,453). The difference between the first and third group was significant (p < 0.01), and there was a negative correlation between the age at onset and the level of serum triglycerides (r = -0.35, p = 0.05).

To evaluate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, the subjects were assessed for the presence of metabolic syndrome according to the criteria of the National Cholesterol Education Program. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was high in subjects with schizophrenia compared with the comparison group (19% vs. 6%, p = 0.010).

The results indicate an elevated risk for hyperlipidemia and metabolic syndrome in persons with schizophrenia or on antipsychotic medication. Regular monitoring of weight, serum lipid and glucose levels and blood pressure is important. Comprehensive efforts directed at controlling weight and improving physical activity are needed.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7728-7
ISBN Print: 951-42-7727-9
Issue: 830
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2005. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.