According to a new study, schizophrenia may be one of the highest risk factors for death from COVID-19, second only to age.
Previous studies have shown that people with mental illnesses, especially depression and schizophrenia, a condition that causes distortions in thinking and perception, had a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. But it was not known whether mental illness was associated with the risk of death from COVID-19.
In the new experiment, the authors examined medical records from 260 outpatient clinics and four hospitals across New York City; Of the 26,540 patients tested (about 4,500 patients were excluded for various reasons), 7,348 adults tested positive for COVID-19 between March 3 and May 31.
The doctors then divided patients with a reported psychiatric disorder into one of three categories – the schizophrenia spectrum, mood disorder or anxiety disorder – and compared them with patients with COVID-19 who had not been diagnosed with any psychiatric disorder. They adjusted their findings for gender, age, race and known COVID-19 risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, smoking and cancer.
The researchers found no link between anxiety or mood disorders and death from COVID-19. But they did find that people with schizophrenia were about 2.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people without the mental disorder.