Patients with schizophrenia have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and higher mortality from them than does the general population; however, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Impaired cerebral autoregulation is associated with cerebrovascular diseases and their mortality. Increased or decreased cerebral blood flow in different brain regions has been reported in patients with schizophrenia, which implies impaired cerebral autoregulation. This study investigated the cerebral autoregulation in 21 patients with schizophrenia and 23 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. None of the participants had a history of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, or diabetes. All participants underwent 10-min blood pressure and cerebral blood flow recording through finger plethysmography and Doppler ultrasonography, respectively. Cerebral autoregulation was assessed by analyzing two autoregulation indices: the mean blood pressure and cerebral blood flow correlation coefficient (Mx), and the phase shift between the waveforms of blood pressure and cerebral blood flow determined using transfer function analysis. Compared with the controls, the patients had a significantly higher Mx (0.257 vs. 0.399, p = 0.036) and lower phase shift (44.3° vs. 38.7° in the 0.07-0.20. Hz frequency band, p = 0.019), which indicated impaired maintenance of constant cerebral blood flow and a delayed cerebrovascular autoregulatory response. Impaired cerebral autoregulation may be caused by schizophrenia and may not be an artifact of coexisting medical conditions. The mechanism underlying impaired cerebral autoregulation in schizophrenia and its probable role in the development of cerebrovascular diseases require further investigation.
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