People suffering from serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can have a life expectancy 10 to 15 years lower than the UK average.
Researchers tracked the lives of more than 30,000 patients through the use of electronic medical records.
They found that many were dying early from heart attack, stroke and cancer rather than suicide or violence.
Mental health groups say vulnerable people need to be offered better care to prevent premature deaths.
The research was carried out at the Biomedical Research Centre for mental health at the Maudsley Hospital in London and published in the online journal PLoS ONE.
The study examined life expectancy for people suffering from specific mental illnesses like schizophrenia, serious depression and bipolar disorder, or those being treated for substance misuse.
Life expectancy across all the illnesses studied was well below the UK average of 77.4 years for men and 81.6 years for women.
Those most affected were women with schizoaffective disorder – problems with mood or sometimes abnormal thoughts – whose average life expectancy was reduced by 17.5 years, and men with schizophrenia whose lives were shortened by about 14.6 years.
The researchers believe a combination of factors – higher-risk lifestyles, long-term anti-psychotic drug use and social disadvantage – could be to blame…..
By Dominic Hughes