Scientists have made a new revelation and said that Schizophrenia might be one of the greatest risk factors after age for death due to COVID19. Many past studies have shown that people who are dealing with mental issues such as depression and schizophrenia, which leads to distortion in thinking and judgment, are at a higher risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, it has been unclear whether these mental issues are linked to an increased risk of death due to COVID19 until now. In the new study, experts have observed the health records of 260 outpatient clinics and nearly four hospitals across New York City. This study is based on the data, which have been released by the New York University electronic health records of 26540 patients. Experts have said that data of around 4500 patients have been excluded from the study due to other reasons. They have noted that around 7348 patients have been tested positive for COVID19 from 3 March to 31 May 2020. They have divided the patients with mental issues into one of three groups such as schizophrenia spectrum, mood disorder, or anxiety issue. Experts have compared these patients with other COVID19 patients who have not been diagnosed with any mental issue. They have adjusted the outcomes of the study for age, sex, race, and known risk factors for COVID19 such as hypertension, diabetes, heart issues, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, smoking, and cancer.
Experts have said that out of more than 7000 patients who have been diagnosed with COVID19 during that time, nearly 75 patients have been dealing with schizophrenia. Around 564 COVID19 patients have had a history of mood disorder. Nearly 360 patients have been found to have anxiety issues. Overall, 864 patients have lost their lives within 45 days of their diagnosis. Experts have not been able to find a link between mood disorder, anxiety issue, and death due to COVID19 during the study. However, they have noted that COVID19 patients with schizophrenia have been at 2.7 times higher risk of death due to viral infection as compared to other COVID19 patients without any mental condition. They have claimed that schizophrenia is the second highest risk factor for death due to COVID19 after age. The study has shown that patients who are in the age range of 45 to 54 years are at 3.9 times higher risk of death from coronavirus as compared to younger patients. As per the experts, the risk of death has increased by twofold every 10 years of age after 54 years, irrespective of any mental issue.
The senior author of the study Dr. Donald Goff has said that on average people with schizophrenia have reduced life expectancies by as much as 20 years. Many of these patients die much earlier due to pneumonia and viral diseases. Experts have said that the reduced life span in such patients might be due to other medical issues that come along with schizophrenia such as obesity, heart issues, and cigarette smoking. After experts have adjusted for these medical issues, people with schizophrenia have still been at a higher risk of death due to COVID19. Dr. Donald Goff has noted that there is something about the disease of schizophrenia or the medications, which cause these patients to be at a higher risk of death from COVID19. It might be possible that the medications for the disease and the disease itself disrupt the functioning of the immune system, said the experts. Many past studies have shown that people who are dealing with schizophrenia have altered immune responses due to changes in the genes that control the immune response of the body. Some health experts believe that schizophrenia is linked to pro-inflammatory signaling molecules, which are known as cytokines. An overreaction of these cytokines, known as cytokine storm is a common cause of death from COVID19. The findings of the study have been released in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.