Mentally Ill Patients Receive Fewer Cardiovascular Procedures Than Rest of Population, Yale Study Finds

After having heart attacks, patients with mental illnesses are significantly less likely to undergo cardiovascular procedures than patients without mental disorders, Yale researchers say.

“Having a mental disorder reduces a patient’s chances of receiving cardiovascular procedures by up to 32 percent,” said Benjamin Druss, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine. “This difference in care was not based on the severity of cardiac illness, or hospital or regional differences between groups.”

Published in the January 26 issue of Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA), the study looked at a sample of 113,653 patients who had myocardial infarction. Of those, 5,653 were mentally ill.

Druss and his team found that patients with mental disorders were 25 percent less likely to receive angioplasty procedures, 32 percent less likely to undergo coronary bypass surgery and 28 percent less likely to undergo cardiac catheterization than those without mental disorders.

Whatever the reasons, Druss said, the fact that these differences could not be explained by measured clinical factors was cause for concern.

“Patients with mental disorders are a vulnerable population who may be vulnerable to inadequate medical care,” Druss said. “Further work is needed to better understand factors leading to these differences and their implications for quality and long-term outcomes of their cardiac care.”

A number of studies have found race- and sex-based differences in rates of cardiovascular procedures in the United States, but no previous studies have examined this issue for patients with mental disorders.

Druss’ team members at Yale included David W. Bradford, Robert A. Rosenheck, M.D., Martha J. Radford, M.D., and Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326