(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- 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 –
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
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."
SOURCE: Archives of Dermatology, June 2009