Pneumonia risk increased in schizophrenia

medwireNews; Patients with schizophrenia are at an increased risk for developing pneumonia, results from a large Taiwanese study show.

Frank Huang-Chih Chou (Kaohsiung Municipal Kai-Syuan Psychiatric Hospital) and team also found that schizophrenia patients were more likely to die after developing pneumonia than those without the mental health disorder.

The researchers note that increased adherence to antipsychotic medications among schizophrenia patients was associated with an increased risk for developing pneumonia, but a reduced risk for dying after developing the condition.

The findings come from a 9-year study of 59,021 patients with schizophrenia and 236,084 age- and gender-matched controls without the disorder from the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database.

The team found that 10.26% of patients with schizophrenia developed pneumonia between 2000 and 2008 compared with just 3.32% of controls, equating to 11.4 versus 3.67 cases per 1000 person-years, respectively.

After accounting for comorbidities and other variables, the researchers found that patients with schizophrenia were significantly more likely to develop pneumonia than controls, at a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.77.

Furthermore, although crude mortality rates after developing pneumonia were higher in controls than schizophrenia patients, at 44.62% versus 35.12%, the mortality risk was higher in schizophrenia patients after adjustment for confounding variables, at an HR of 1.39.

Interestingly, increased antipsychotic proportion of days covered (PDC), which was computed as the number of days on which psychiatric medication was dispensed as a percentage of 365 days, was associated with an increased risk for developing pneumonia, but a reduced risk for mortality.

The researchers conclude in the Journal of Psychiatric Research: "During the 9-year follow-up, the likelihood of developing pneumonia among patients with schizophrenia was higher than that of the non-schizophrenia group."

They add the findings also "imply the importance of both the benefits and side effects of psychotropic drugs."

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