The incidence of the metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is increasing worldwide and is suggested to be higher among psychiatric patients, especially those on antipsychotic treatment.
To assess the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in Danish psychiatric outpatients and compare it with the general population.
In a cross-sectional, observational study in 2007-08, 170 Danish outpatients on antipsychotic drug treatment were monitored for the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome based on the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definition and compared with a general population group of 3303 randomly selected Danes.
Of the antipsychotic-treated patients 48.2% fulfilled the IDF criteria for the metabolic syndrome, compared with 29.6% of the general population. The antipsychotic-treated patients had higher rates of increased waist circumference, triglyceride and glucose levels, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Compared with the general population, the odds ratio (OR) of the metabolic syndrome among antipsychotic-treated patients was 2.2. After adjustment for age and sex, the OR increased to 2.7. In the antipsychotic-treated group, statistically different rates of the metabolic syndrome for patients in monopharmacy vs. polypharmacy, and for patients in monotherapy with first-generation vs. second-generation antipsychotics, could not be found.
The metabolic syndrome is highly prevalent among a Danish outpatient population treated with antipsychotics compared with the general population. Monitoring of lipid and glucose levels, blood pressure and waist circumference before start-up and during treatment with antipsychotic medication is of pivotal importance in order to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease in this patient population.