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12-05-2011 | Article

Older age predicts cardiovascular risk in psoriasis patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Age rather than psoriasis severity appears to be key in predicting the risk for cardiovascular disease among patients with the skin disorder, study findings suggest.

D Rosa and colleagues from the Federal University of Juiz de Flora in Brazil found that older age increased the risk for cardiovascular disease in patients with psoriasis, whereas the severity of the skin condition did not.

"There is strong evidence that psoriasis patients have an increased cardiovascular risk, probably because of the chronic inflammatory state which characterizes the disease and which plays a role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease," explain the researchers.

Their analysis of 98 patients with psoriasis, aged from 12 to 98 years, showed a relatively high prevalence of various risk factors for cardiovascular disease compared with general population estimates.

Specifically, 67% had abnormal cholesterol levels, 14% had diabetes, and 59% had high blood pressure. In addition, 44% had the metabolic syndrome and 28% were obese.

But despite these risk factors, most (68%) of the patients were considered to be at low risk for developing cardiovascular disease, while 18% were considered to be at intermediate risk, and 13% at high risk.

Overall, the severity of psoriasis did not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, with a similar percentage of patients at low and intermediate or high risk among the 27 patients with severe disease (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale score above 10), at 28% and 29%, respectively.

Age, however, did impact on the risk for cardiovascular disease; all of the patients at intermediate or high risk for cardiovascular disease were over the age of 40 years, along with 70% of low-risk individuals.

Also, abnormal cholesterol levels, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome were more common in patients older than 40 years, whereas their prevalence was not significantly greater in patients with more severe disease.

Given their findings, the researchers conclude in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: "It is necessary to enhance the doctors' awareness of sub-clinical atherosclerosis in psoriasis patients, so that general preventive measures and early therapeutic interventions can be implemented in the outpatient setting, reducing the burden of high mortality events such as acute myocardium infarction [heart attack] and stroke."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper