American doctors examined medical records of 26,540 New Yorkers made from March 3 to May 31, 2020, LiveScience reports. Researchers divided covid patients with mental disorders into categories: schizophrenic spectrum, mood disorders, anxiety disorder - and compared them with those who did not have mental disorders.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found no link between anxiety or mood disorders and death from COVID-19. However, people with schizophrenia died from COVID-19 about 2.7 times more often. That is, this mental disorder turned out to be the second most important risk factor after age. By comparison, patients aged 45 to 54 were 3.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than younger adults (every 10 years after age 54, this risk doubled). And patients with heart failure or diabetes had 1.65 and 1.28 times the risk of death.
Why can mental illness lead to death from COVID-19? Perhaps the disease itself or the drugs used to treat it destroy the immune system. Earlier research has shown that people with schizophrenia may have variations in genes that regulate the body's immune response to infections. It is also likely that schizophrenia may be associated with cytokine activation and lead to a cytokine storm. There is an assumption that the development of schizophrenia and the fatal course of COVID-19 are controlled by the same mechanism.
The team is now conducting more research to find a biological reason why patients with schizophrenia may be at such a high risk.
The results of the study are published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.