OBJECTIVE: Schizophrenia is associated with a shortened life expectancy and increased somatic comorbidity with, e.g., cardiovascular disorders. One major risk factor for these disorders is the metabolic syndrome, which has been reported to have a higher frequency in schizophrenic patients. Our objective was to study the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in a population-based birth cohort. METHOD: The study sample consisted of 5613 members of the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort who participated in the field study from 1997 to 1998. Subjects were divided into 4 diagnostic categories (DSM-III-R): (1) schizophrenia (N = 31), (2) other functional psychoses (N = 22), (3) nonpsychotic disorders (N = 105), and (4) no psychiatric hospital treatment (N = 5455, comparison group). Subjects were assessed for the presence of metabolic syndrome according to the criteria of the National Cholesterol Education Program. RESULTS: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was higher in subjects with schizophrenia compared with the comparison group (19% vs. 6%, p = .010). The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in subjects with other psychoses was 5%. After controlling for sex, the results of logistic regression analysis showed that the risk of metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia was 3.7 (95% CI = 1.5 to 9.0). CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia even at such a relatively young age underscores the need to select antipsychotic medications with no or little capability to induce metabolic side effects. Also, developing comprehensive efforts directed at controlling weight and diet and improving physical activity are needed.
The metabolic syndrome (MS) represents a cluster of risk factors related to insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a strong risk factor for chronic metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and is related to nutritional factors, sleep patterns, work-related stress, fatigue, and physical activity - all of which are critical issues at sea. We have previously demonstrated a MS prevalence of 24.2% in Danish seafarers. This study aimed to follow the trend of MS after 2 years' intervention.
Out of 524 Danish seafarers (mean age 37.7 years) who underwent medical fit-for-duty examination by seamen's doctors at baseline, 141 seafarers (mean age 41.3 years) were tracked and re-examined after 2 years. At baseline all participants received general advice regarding lifestyle issues. Seafarers with MS were additionally given specific advice regarding treatment. The seafarers provided questionnaire information about their workplace on board, about treatment of hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, and about previously diagnosed type 2-diabetes. In order to define MS, we collected data about waist circumference, blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, and fasting plasma glucose.
Out of 35 (26.5%) seafarers who fulfilled the criteria for MS at follow-up, 18 had MS at baseline while 9 were incident cases. Two seafarers with MS at baseline ceased to qualify for this condition at follow-up. The prevalence of seafarers with MS at follow-up represents a minimal estimate because a proportion could not be assessed due to missing fasting blood tests. Smoking and alcohol consumption was not reduced.
In spite of the intervention, the prevalence of MS increased in this group of seafarers. This study indicates the limitations of individual health promotion and the need for corporate actions.