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Can J Psychiatry. 1995 Jun;40(5):241-6.

Extended survival of patients on long-term lithium treatment.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, Royal Ottawa Hospital, Ontario.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Findings from a recent international multi-centre trial are compatible with the idea that long-term lithium treatment extends the survival of patients suffering from affective disorders to match the general population. A similar reduction of mortality was found in Canadian patients, although important questions remained to be answered about cardiovascular and suicide mortality, and patient selection.

METHOD:

Based on data collected in a study (1) from lithium clinics in Canada, Denmark, Germany and Austria, an analysis was carried out of suicide and cardiovascular mortality in patients who received prophylactic lithium treatment.

RESULTS:

In patients given lithium for two years or longer (n = 641), both suicide and cardiovascular mortality were the same as, or only slightly higher than, in the general population; in patients given lithium for less than two years (n = 186), both mortalities remained high. The reduced mortality is not likely to be the result of selection because the patients who were treated briefly and those treated for a longer time did not differ in important mortality variables.

CONCLUSIONS:

In addition to its ability to prevent recurrences, prophylactic lithium treatment appears capable of reducing both the excess suicide risk and excess cardiovascular mortality of affective illness.

PMID:
7553542
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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