Psoriasis Patients at Higher Risk for Heart Attacks

Skin disease is related to increased cardiovascular disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For people who suffer from the inflammatory skin disease psoriasis, their risks of a heart attack, stroke, or dying from cardiovascular disease are much higher.

The build up of plaque seems to be the common element that connects the two. Psoriasis patients are 26 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or other cardiovascular event.

"Psoriasis patients should monitor their heart health carefully."

Ole Ahlehoff, MD, cardiologist with Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, led the research that studied nearly 50,000 patients who had experienced their first heart attack between 2002 and 2006. Four hundred and sixty-two of those also had psoriasis, and the remaining patients were used as control subjects.

The team followed the patients for 19 to 22 months, and found that the patients with psoriasis had higher death rates, being 26 more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 18 percent more likely to die from all causes. 

Psoriasis is a common condition that affects 125 million people worldwide. The disease affects the skin cells, replacing naturally-shedding cells much more quickly than in people without psoriasis. This creates a build-up of psoriatic plaque. Heart attacks are also caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries, and the key finding of a Danish study is the relationship between these two conditions.

The psoriatic patients also had higher rates of hospitalization for severe chest pain.

Dr. Ahlehoff says this indicates the need for a more aggressive approach to secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in psoriatic patients. "Our findings show that people with psoriasis demonstrated a significantly increased risk of recurring adverse cardiovascular events and a trend for increased all-cause deaths after a heart attack."

Study findings were published in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.

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Review Date: 
September 14, 2011
Last Updated:
September 15, 2011