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19-01-2012 | Article

Heart disease risk increased in psoriasis


Free abstract

MedWire News: People with the skin disease psoriasis face an above-average risk for having blocked coronary arteries, scientific research suggests.

The findings highlight the need for people with psoriasis to be screened for predisposing factors such as smoking, being overweight, or having high blood pressure.

The study also suggests that heart disease and psoriasis may share some underlying features, such as inflammation, say the study authors writing in the American Journal of Cardiology.

The study was undertaken by Dr April Armstrong (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts) and coworkers with the aim of comparing the frequency of heart disease in people with and without psoriasis.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by widespread inflammation in the body. Common symptoms of psoriasis are scaling, flaking, and redness of the skin, while less commonly the disease causes pain and swelling in the joints.

Dr Armstrong's team obtained information on nearly 10,000 patients who underwent a procedure called "coronary angiography" over a 5-year period, of whom around 200 had psoriasis.

Coronary angiography involves injecting dye into the blood vessels around the heart in order to look for narrowing or blockages - what is commonly referred to as "heart disease" or "blocked arteries."

The researchers found that heart disease was significantly more common in people with psoriasis than in those without. Around 85% of patients with psoriasis had heart disease compared with 75% of patients without psoriasis.

The researchers also looked at the frequency of "risk factors" or predisposing factors for heart disease, finding that some factors (eg, obesity) were more common in patients with psoriasis. However, this did not entirely explain the higher frequency of heart disease in patients with psoriasis than in those without.

Dr Armstrong and co-workers conclude that "patients with psoriasis and especially those with psoriasis for more than 8 years have a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease than patients without psoriasis undergoing coronary angiography."

They add: "Given the epidemiologic links between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease found in this and other studies, patients with psoriasis may benefit from more aggressive risk stratification and cardiovascular risk factor modification."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Joanna Lyford