If you have psoriasis, recent studies suggest you may also be at risk for several health conditions that contribute to heart disease. Experts recommend that psoriasis patients should be screened for cardiovascular disease.
The studies, which involved more than 4,000 patients, found that the more surface area of skin affected by psoriasis, the more likely a patient is to have metabolic syndrome. This syndrome consists of several conditions associated with an increased risk of heart disease: insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and elevated triglyceride levels.
Researchers uncovered several distinct patterns among psoriasis patients:
- Psoriasis patients have LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol that consists of smaller and denser cholesterol particles, a pattern observed in patients with diabetes. These smaller and denser particles are more likely to promote hardening of the arteries and cause heart attacks.
- Psoriasis patients also have impaired function of HDL (or “good”) cholesterol, which may not allow HDL to remove cholesterol from the cells in the arteries.
- One study found patients with severe psoriasis may die about five years younger than patients who do not have the disease, and 50% of this excess mortality is due to cardiovascular disease.
- More studies have linked more severe cases of psoriasis to higher rates of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks.
While researchers have only found an association between psoriasis and cardiovascular risk, not a cause-and-effect relationship, many experts believe that inflammation may be the common link. Excessive inflammation is a critical feature of psoriasis. Chronic inflammation also plays a role in abnormal cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Tips for Patients with Psoriasis:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Lead an active lifestyle.
- Avoid smoking.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Maintain an ideal body weight.
- Reduce stress.
- Get routine screenings for cardiovascular risk factors:
- Blood pressure.
- Blood sugar.
American Academy of Dermatology