Is the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome and Metabolic Abnormalities Increased in Early Schizophrenia? A Comparative Meta-Analysis of First Episode, Untreated and Treated Patients

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We aimed to discover whether metabolic complications of schizophrenia (SZ) are present in first episode (FE) and unmedicated (UM) patients, in comparison with patients established on antipsychotic medication (AP).


A systematic search, critical appraisal, and meta-analysis were conducted of studies to December 2011 using Medline, PsycINFO, Embase and experts. Twenty-six studies examined FE SZ patients (n = 2548) and 19 included UM SZ patients (n = 1325). For comparison we identified 78 publications involving 24 892 medicated patients who had chronic SZ already established on AP.


In UM, the overall rate of metabolic syndrome (MetS) was 9.8% using any standardized criteria. Diabetes was found in only 2.1% and hyperglycaemia (>100mg/dl) in 6.4%. In FE, the overall MetS rate was 9.9%, diabetes was found in only 1.2%, and hyperglycaemia in 8.7%. In UM and FE, the rates of overweight were 26.6%, 22%; hypertriglyceridemia 16.9%, 19.6%; low HDL 20.4%, 21.9%; high blood pressure 24.3%, 30.4%; smoking 40.2%, 46.8%, respectively. In both groups all metabolic components and risk factors were significantly less common in early SZ than in those already established on AP. Waist size, blood pressure and smoking were significantly lower in UM compared with FE.


There is a significantly lower cardiovascular risk in early SZ than in chronic SZ. Both diabetes and pre-diabetes appear uncommon in the early stages, especially in UM. However, smoking does appear to be elevated early after diagnosis. Clinicians should focus on preventing initial cardiometabolic risk because subsequent reduction in this risk is more difficult to achieve, either through behavioral or pharmacologic interventions.

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