21 Nov Psoriasis Linked To Heart Disease
Several Studies Hint Of Link With Heart Disease
Growing evidence over the past decade has identified psoriasis as a risk factor for heart attack, strokes and hardening of the arteries.
Chances are that you know someone with psoriasis. It is a common skin condition affecting about 3 percent of Americans. It causes red and scaly areas that can itch and dramatically affect well-being.
When quality of life studies are undertaken, psoriasis always ranks alongside terminal cancer, depression and congestive heart failure.
Psoriasis sufferers were once widely believed to have had leprosy and shunned or outright banished. It is believed many biblical and historical accounts of leprosy were actually psoriasis in retrospect. So your typical psoriasis sufferer is no stranger to bad news.
The understanding of psoriasis has evolved greatly over the past 30 years. My mentoring generation was taught that it was merely a condition of the skin proliferating too rapidly. By the time I began my studies, it was well-recognized to be a disregulation of the immune system triggered by underlying genetic factors.
Psoriasis And Cardiovascular Disease
We also recognized that cardiovascular disease often accompanied psoriasis in patients. This observation was attributed to the fact that most patients with psoriasis were either overweight, diabetic, drank too much and smoked (and many had all these risk factors). Thus we chalked up the heart disease to the lifestyle, and ultimately the poor decisions made by the patient. Oh how simplistic those days seem now.
When researchers adjust for all those risk factors, a gloomier picture emerges. People with psoriasis are 78 percent more likely to have heart attacks and angina. Seventy percent are more likely to suffer a stroke. Sufferers are also twice as likely to have plaque buildup in the arteries throughout the body.
It seems almost every month a new article is published further supporting these associations. There is still much to be learned about this relationship, however. For instance, does the severity of the psoriasis matter? And do our treatments for psoriasis mitigate against the cardiovascular disease? Preliminary answers are positive thus far on both questions.
If you have psoriasis, remember it is not just skin deep. It is now viewed as a systemwide condition. Aside from your vessels and heart it also can attack your joints. It is now another important risk factor to take into consideration; much like your blood pressure, smoking status, cholesterol and body mass.
There are many people with psoriasis who only see a dermatologist. Chances are they are not getting the necessary cardiovascular screening these new findings warrant. This underscores the necessity of having a capable primary care physician involved in your care.
So if you know someone with psoriasis, please pass this information along and help raise awareness.