Side effects of medications for mental health conditions needs to be monitored

Side effects of medications for mental health conditions needs to be monitored

By Liz Lockhart

Experts estimate that 90% of patients treated with antipsychotic medication have at lease one metabolic risk factor.  This is a strong reason why patients under psychiatric care need to be offered regular monitoring.

Researchers from the University of Leicester say that 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.

According to 60% of individuals receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia have high cholesterol.  40% have high blood pressure and 30% exhibit metabolic syndrome.

48 studies, conducted during 2000-2001, involving almost 300,00 individuals in five countries were reviewed by the researchers.

The findings are published in the online journal Psychological Medicine.

The researchers found that psychiatrists were monitoring the blood pressure and triglycerides in more than half of patients who were in psychiatric care.  Cholesterol, glucose and weight checks were offered to less than half.  The monitoring of patients was similar US and in UK studies and was also similar for both outpatients and inpatients.

‘The Study highlights that psychiatrists are not always considering he metabolic complication of prescribed medication,’ said  Dr. Alex Mitchell, a consultant and researcher at the University of Leicester.  ‘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.’ Dr Mitchell concluded.

Source: University of Leicester  

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