Dr. Rohan Ganguli
Canada Research Chair in Chronic Disease Management at the University of Toronto and Executive Vice President, Clinical Transformation Projects and Quality Improvement at CAMH
“I had read about the shortened life expectancy of people with serious mental illnesses but it wasn’t until I found my own patients dying in their mid-fifties from heart disease and the complications of diabetes that this became the focus of my research."
The risk of both heart disease and diabetes is closely linked to obesity and affects people with mental illness two to three times more often than the general population. Unfortunately some of the newer medications developed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder intensify these risks, making an already difficult situation worse.
Closing the gap in life expectancy and improving overall quality of life for people with major mental illnesses is the goal of Dr. Ganguli’s research program. With a focus on altering and eliminating changeable risk factors for these individuals, Dr. Ganguli’s research program has three main goals: creating better understanding, developing helpful and accessible interventions, and disseminating these interventions to physicians, other health care professionals, and caregivers in the community.
Rohan believes that the path to better living involves both the patient and the physician. For physicians, it’s a matter of taking a good history to identify risks for things such as heart disease including those medications that are likely to cause significant weight gain. For patients, it’s a matter of adopting positive behaviours such as daily exercise and healthy eating.
Rohan has gained an international reputation for his research in the area of reducing health risks of people living with mental illness. He was one of the first scientists to point out the relationship between new antipsychotic medications and excessive weight gain.
“I always recommend to my patients that they weigh themselves regularly, keep track of what they eat, and walk as much as possible. These strategies are simple, cheap and, most importantly, put the patient in control.”
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