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February 2013



Recent Posts



The Link Between Schizophrenia and Heart Disease


By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 2, 2013

A new study further confirms the biological and genetic links between heart (or cardiovascular) disease and schizophrenia.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of premature death in schizophrenia patients, who die from heart and blood vessel disorders at twice the rate of people without the mental disorder.


“These results have important clinical implications, adding to our growing awareness that cardiovascular disease is under-recognized and under-treated in mentally ill individuals,” said study first author Ole Andreassen, M.D., Ph.D., an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and professor of psychiatry at the University of Oslo.

“Its presence in schizophrenia is not solely due to lifestyle or medication side effects. Clinicians must recognize that individuals with schizophrenia are at risk for cardiovascular disease independent of these factors.”


For the study, an international team of researchers used a novel statistical model to magnify the powers of genome-wide association studies (GWAS).


These are studies in which differing bits of sequential DNA — called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs — in persons and groups are compared to find common genetic variants that might be linked to a trait or disease.


The researchers further enhanced the power of GWAS by adding information based on genetic pleiotropy — the concept that at least some genes influence multiple traits, instead of a single trait.


“Our approach is different in that we use all available genetic information for multiple traits and diseases, not just SNPs below a given statistical threshold,” said principal investigator Anders M. Dale, Ph.D.
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Age-Related Decline in IQ Linked to Schizophrenia Risk


By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 23, 2013

A person who is at greater risk for developing schizophrenia is more likely to experience a decline in IQ with age. 


This may happen even if the person does not go on to develop the disorder, say scientists at the University of Edinburgh.


Schizophrenia is a rare but serious psychiatric disorder, usually beginning in late adolescence, and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, cognitive impairment, social withdrawal, self-neglect and loss of motivation and initiative.


It has been shown that genetic factors influence the development of the disorder.


“Retaining our thinking skills as we grow older is important for living well and independently. If nature has loaded a person’s genes towards schizophrenia, then there is a slight but detectable worsening in cognitive functions between childhood and old age,” said Professor Ian Deary, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology.


Using genetic analysis techniques, the researchers compared the IQ scores of more than 1,000 people from Edinburgh.  The participants were tested for general cognitive functions in 1947, at age 11, and again when they were about 70 years old.


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