Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Psoriasis and Your Heart Health: Is There a Link?
Studies suggest that psoriasis might increase heart attack and stroke risk.
“The heartbreak of psoriasis” was the catchphrase from an old advertising campaign. It may sound overwrought, but psoriasis sufferers know that the skin condition is more than just an aggravation. What many may not know is that psoriasis can increase the risk for heart attacks and stroke.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition typically characterized by red, scaly patches. Sometimes it is associated with arthritis. About 7 million Americans are affected. It is thought to be caused by an immune reaction gone awry, and is not contagious. Psoriasis can usually be controlled with medical treatment, but it is more often than not a lifelong problem.
Over the past several years, there have been a number of reports suggesting that psoriasis might increase heart attack and stroke risk. To get a better handle on the problem, Dr. Nehal Mehta and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reviewed the charts of over 3,600 patients with severe psoriasis, and compared them to over 14,000 people without the disease. The researchers found that psoriasis significantly increased the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, even when other risk factors were taken into account.
The link between cardiovascular disease and psoriasis is thought to be due to inflammation. More research is needed in order to know whether aggressively treating the psoriasis will reduce the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
In the meantime, if you suffer from psoriasis, it’s especially important that you do all you can to keep your heart healthy and strong.
- Exercise regularly.
- Choose a Mediterranean diet.
- Keep your weight in a healthy range.
- Avoid tobacco.
By making these healthy choices, you’ll also help to control your psoriasis.
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