Monitoring and prevalence rates of metabolic syndrome in military veterans with serious mental illness.
BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality among patients with serious mental illness (SMI) and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome--a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors--is significantly higher in these patients than in the general population. Metabolic monitoring among patients using second generation antipsychotics (SGAs)--a risk factor for metabolic syndrome--has been shown to be inadequate despite the release of several guidelines. However, patients with SMI have several factors independent of medication use that predispose them to a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Our study therefore examines monitoring and prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with SMI, including those not using SGAs. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We retrospectively identified all patients treated at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center with diagnoses of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder during 2005-2006 and obtained demographic and clinical data. Incomplete monitoring of metabolic syndrome was defined as being unable to determine the status of at least one of the syndrome components. Of the 1,401 patients included (bipolar disorder: 822; schizophrenia: 222; and schizoaffective disorder: 357), 21.4% were incompletely monitored. Only 54.8% of patients who were not prescribed SGAs and did not have previous diagnoses of hypertension or hypercholesterolemia were monitored for all metabolic syndrome components compared to 92.4% of patients who had all three of these characteristics. Among patients monitored for metabolic syndrome completely, age-adjusted prevalence of the syndrome was 48.4%, with no significant difference between the three psychiatric groups. CONCLUSIONS: Only one half of patients with SMI not using SGAs or previously diagnosed with hypertension and hypercholesterolemia were completely monitored for metabolic syndrome components compared to greater than 90% of those with these characteristics. With the high prevalence of metabolic syndrome seen in this population, there appears to be a need to intensify efforts to reduce this monitoring gap.