When patients with schizophrenia use antipsychotic medications, their risk of death is substantially lower than it is when they do not, according to a study published online in Schizophrenia Research.
“Our results showed that antipsychotic use was associated with an approximately 50% lower risk of death when compared with no use, which strongly suggests that the net effect on mortality is beneficial,” researchers wrote. “Since medications are started when symptoms re-appear or get worse, it is obvious that the results would be even more favorable for antipsychotic treatment if this bias could be eliminated.”
Treatment with second-generation long-acting injectable drugs, namely paliperidone and risperidone, as well as oral aripiprazole, were associated with the lowest risk of death in the group. Overall, long-acting injectables were linked with a 33% lower mortality rate than their equivalent oral formulations, researchers found.
Previous studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia have a life expectancy of 15-20 years less than people in the general population, and antipsychotic side effects are often blamed. This study, however, found no such link.
“Overall, the results show that excess mortality among patients with schizophrenia is more likely associated with a lack of antipsychotic therapy rather than with antipsychotic treatment,” researchers wrote.