How can a skin infection be linked to heart disease? A recent editorial consensus published in the December issue of the American Journal of Cardiology gives some recommendations which concern the possible link between psoriasis and carddiovascular health.
According to Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia,
psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get them on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because your cells rise too fast.
Psoriasis is thought to be caused by an immune system gone wrong. T-cells, which are a type of white blood cells that attack invading microorganisms, mistakenly attack skin cells, thus leading to abnormally rapid skin cell production. It is known to run in families so there could be a genetic link somewhere. Psoriasis symptoms can and go but stress, infections, cigarette smoking, cold weather, skin dryness, and certain drugs can worsen the symptoms.
Psoriasis is said to affect 2 to 3% of people worldwide. In the US, approximately 7.5 million Americans are suffering from this skin disorder. Recent research studies show that aside from discomfort and aesthetic concerns that this skin disorder brings, recent studies indicate that patients with psoriasis may have increased risk for coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries that are supplying blood to the heart becomes narrow, stiff and even blocked, leading to myocardial infarction or heart attack.
The consensus recommends that patients with moderate to severe cases of psoriasis should be thoroughly screened for coronary artery disease as well as for cardiovascular risk factors. The mechanisms behind the CAD – psoriasis association are not well understood but it could have something to do with inflammation.
The consensus statement gave the following recommendations (Source: Science Daily):
- Informing patients with moderate to severe psoriasis that they are at increased risk of CAD and performing a medical evaluation to assess cardiovascular risk. For patients with milder psoriasis, evaluation is recommended if other CAD risk factors are present, such as obesity or high blood pressure.
- Prescribing treatment to reduce high cholesterol levels and other risk factors, if present.
- Paying close attention to possible interactions or adverse effects of the medications used to treat psoriasis.
Psoriasis has also been linked to other “inflammatory disorders” such as arthritis.
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