Longer duration of psoriasis causes heart disease

People who suffer from psoriasis may be at a greater risk for coronary artery disease, and a new study suggests the heart risks are higher in people who've had psoriasis longer.

"Our advice to patients with psoriasis is to make sure they get screened for their modifiable cardiovascular risk factors," said Dr Joel Gelfand, a dermatologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia who was not involved in the new research.

The researchers analysed data on nearly 9,500 patients who had coronary angiography, including just over 200 with psoriasis. Compared to the other patients, they were more likely to have a history of high cholesterol and be overweight.

Overall, 84% of patients with psoriasis had coronary artery disease, compared to 75% of patients without psoriasis, the research team reported January 3 in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Psoriasis not limited to the skin

"After adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors, psoriasis was independently associated with presence of angiographically confirmed coronary artery disease," the authors wrote.

The researchers also found that patients had a higher risk of heart disease the longer they'd had psoriasis. Duration of psoriasis greater than eight years was independently associated with angiographically confirmed disease after adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors.

"One of the things that we've come to understand is that psoriasis is not a disease that's just limited to the skin," said Dr April Armstrong of the University of California, Davis, who led the new study.

Heart disease and inflammatory diseases connect

Dr Richard Krasuski, director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease Services at the Cleveland Clinic, said the new findings fit with past studies that showed a connection between heart disease and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

"Certainly what they come up with makes biological sense," said Dr Krasuski, who was not involved with the study.

But he cautioned that the increase in risk was not overwhelming and the findings were based on patients from only one medical centre.

(Reuters Health, January 2012) 

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