Heart Disease Risks and Prevention Strategies for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness: Recommendations for Providers

This brief animated video provides recommendations for care providers of people with serious mental illness who are at risk for cardiovascular disease. The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease is two to three times higher for people with serious mental illness compared to the general population. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. Psychiatric medications may slow metabolism and cause weight gain as an unintended side effect, which also increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular illness.

Providers are encouraged to emphasize optimism, treat patients with respect and empathy, provide clear instructions, and discuss treatment plans and options with the patient. Primary care providers should be transparent about treatment options and the challenges they may pose for the patient. Encouraging lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and regular exercise can also improve the physical health of patients at risk for cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle changes can not only reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular illness, but also improve the overall wellness of patients with serious mental illness. Engaging the patient in decisions involving their care through patient activation can increase the likelihood these healthy habits will be sustained long-term. Standardized screening protocols can help identify patients who may be at risk. The guidance in this video also makes providers aware of factors that enhance clients’ care, such as supportive services and resources.

This video is the second part of a two-part series. Watch part one.

(Animated Video, YouTube)

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