Cardiometabolic health significantly impacts on the mortality of people with severe mental illness. Clozapine has the greatest efficacy for Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia (TRS) but the greatest negative impact on cardiometabolic health. Balancing the risks and benefits of treatment, dignity, autonomy, liberty, mental and physical health can be challenging, particularly when imposing interventions with potentially life threatening adverse events, such as clozapine. We describe the successful administration of clozapine in the face of myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism and hyperlipidaemia resulting in the termination of long-term seclusion for a gentleman with TRS in high secure psychiatric services.
The impact of clozapine on a 44-year-old gentleman with TRS, extreme violence requiring physical restraint and long-term segregation, and numerous other significant physical health complications is described. He had metabolic syndrome; a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, Body Mass Index (BMI) of 31.5, poorly controlled lipids and had smoked heavily since childhood. During preparations to initiate clozapine, he suffered a myocardial infarction and pulmonary embolism. His compliance with secondary prevention medications was poor due to paranoid persecutory and somatic delusions. Despite these concerns, nasogastric administration of clozapine was approved and prescribed within nine months of his myocardial infarction and a month from his pulmonary embolism but was ultimately not required. Accepting oral medication, his mental state made a rapid and dramatic improvement. After spending 1046 days in seclusion, this was terminated 94 days after clozapine initiation. He has been compliant with all medications for 24 months, had no incidents of violence or seclusion, and has been transferred to medium secure services. His physical health stabilised despite continuing to lead a sedentary lifestyle and remaining obese (BMI of 35). He developed hypertension, Type II Diabetes Mellitus and his triglycerides rose to 22.2 mmol/L in the same month after clozapine initiation. However, with pharmacological intervention, 24 months later these are controlled, and he has had no further thromboembolic events.