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Psoriasis Connected To Cardiovascular Disease

June 17, 2009

The skin disease psoriasis, in addition to being unsightly and painful, has now been linked to atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can lead to myocardial infarction ““ and death.

Psoriasis affects nearly 3 percent of the world’s population, including 7 million Americans. In addition to its effects on the skin, psoriasis is associated with arthritis, depression and a lower quality of life.

Dr. Srjdan Prodanovich and colleagues analyzed the computerized records of 3,236 patients with psoriasis and 2,500 individuals without psoriasis who were seen at the same Veterans Administration facility.

“After age, sex and history of hypertension, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels and smoking status were controlled for, patients with psoriasis were significantly more likely than controls to carry a diagnosis of atherosclerosis,” the authors write.

The authors emphasize the tremendous and far-reaching clinical implications, as vascular conditions caused by atherosclerosis represent a major financial cost to the health care system as well as a major cause of disability and death. The authors concluded that psoriasis is an independent risk factor for mortality, “i.e., we found a higher percentage of deaths among patients with psoriasis than among patients without psoriasis (19.6 percent vs. 9.9 percent).”

They urge that future studies investigate whether aggressive treatment of either cardiovascular risk factors or psoriasis will lead to an improvement in atherosclerosis in these patients.

“In the meantime, we recommend that health care providers who are caring for patients with psoriasis be vigilant with respect to traditional risk factor screenings,” they write. “It would be prudent for dermatologists to be familiar with suggested screening for cardiovascular risk factors and recommendations for aspirin use. If not, it is imperative that they work in collaboration with a primary care provider or another internal medicine specialist, who also needs to be aware of our findings.”

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