Understanding and managing cardiovascular risks in treating mental illness

Dr Mark Sweeney, Dr Carla Plymen, Dr Derek Tracy, Dr Susan Piper, Prof Sukhi Shergill and Dr Rishi Patel

60 minutes


June 2022

Learning module

CPD domain:


Individuals with significant mental illness are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Atypical antipsychotics are among the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications and they too can have uncommon but significant cardiac side-effects. It is important for psychiatrists to understand these risks, but many feel inexperienced and ill-equipped to do so, lacking confidence about when to instigate assessments or treatments and when to seek specialist advice.

This module will build on the BJPsych Advances paper 'Understanding and managing cardiac side-effects of second-generation antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia'. We will provide practical, psychiatry-related tips and information on:

  • reading an electrocardiogram (ECG),
  • how to approach cardiovascular risk assessment,
  • common imaging techniques used by cardiologists to evaluate common heart conditions.

We hope to improve psychiatrists' confidence in clarifying when to seek specialist input.


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