HealthDay News — Homeless people with mental illness are at high risk for heart disease, a new study suggests.
Canadian researchers found that they have a 24.5% risk of heart attack, fatal or nonfatal stroke, or sudden cardiac death over 30 years.
The risk is about 10% for a person of the same age and gender who does not smoke, does not have diabetes or high blood pressure, and is not overweight, the researchers noted.
The risk of cardiovascular disease in homeless people with mental illness was highest among men and those with substance abuse disorders, according to the study published in the journal BMC Public Health.
“If you are homeless and having a mental illness and are a male or have a substance use disorder, your risk of 30-year cardiovascular disease appears to be much higher even if you may not show the typical other predictors such as high [body-mass index or high blood pressure], etc.,” said Agnes Gozdzik, PhD, a research associate at the Center for Research in Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said in a news release.
Smoking may be one reason why homeless people with mental illness have such a high risk of heart disease, the researchers suggested. Research shows that both homeless and mentally ill people have high rates of smoking.
According to some estimates, as many as 90% of people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder smoke, as do about 70% of people with a major depressive disorder. The smoking rate in the general population is about 20%, the news release says.
Gozdzik A, et al. Cardiovascular risk factors and 30-year cardiovascular risk in homeless adults with mental illness. BMC Public Health. 2015; 15:165.