Severe psoriasis increases heart disease risk, researchers claim.

Severe psoriasis increases heart disease risk, researchers claim.

Psoriasis and Heart Disease: The Link You Need to Know


Experts have recently discovered a strong link between severe psoriasis and heart disease. While this may not come as a surprise to many, a new study brings some interesting insights into the connection. The research suggests that people with psoriasis, even in the absence of cardiovascular symptoms, may have impaired blood flow in their small blood vessels, which increases the risk of heart disease. This finding sheds light on the need for those with psoriasis to actively manage heart disease risk factors.

In the study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, scientists examined the coronary microvascular system and its ability to allow uninterrupted blood flow. They found that more than 30% of individuals with psoriasis had undiagnosed coronary microvascular dysfunction, despite not having a history of cardiovascular disease. This dysfunction was primarily attributed to inflammation, which was observed to decrease blood flow.

Previously, studies have shown a higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and related mortality among people with severe psoriasis. However, understanding the underlying mechanisms of this association has been limited. Now, this latest study suggests that inflammatory diseases like psoriasis may contribute to endothelial and cardiovascular microvascular dysfunction, even in the absence of apparent cardiovascular disease.

The researchers aimed to investigate the connection between psoriasis and coronary microvascular dysfunction further. They discovered that systemic inflammation appeared to play a significant role in the development of coronary microvascular dysfunction, independent of traditional heart disease risk factors such as smoking, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes.

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in California, explains that the “inflammatory molecules in the blood from psoriasis activity interfere with the ability of blood vessels to contract and expand.” This aligns with other research on autoimmune disorders, suggesting a common mechanism for inflammation-related cardiovascular complications.

Dr. Stefano Piaserico, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Padua in Italy and one of the study authors, emphasizes the importance of considering both inflammation and psoriasis-related factors when assessing cardiovascular risk in individuals with severe psoriasis. The severity, duration, and presence of psoriatic arthritis were identified as significant predictors of reduced coronary flow reserve, highlighting the need for tailored risk assessments for psoriasis patients.

To better understand the implications of these findings, it is essential to grasp the concept of coronary flow reserve. Blood flows through the large coronary arteries into the microvascular system, composed of small blood vessels. The study shows that psoriasis patients had impaired coronary microvascular function, even though traditional angiograms were clear of any blockages. This dysfunction is thought to be caused by damage to the endothelial cells, which regulate blood vessel relaxation and expansion.

While the link between psoriasis and heart disease is certainly concerning, experts assure that not all individuals with psoriasis will develop cardiovascular problems. Regular check-ups with primary care physicians are still vital, as they can monitor blood pressure and perform heart health marker tests. If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist for further evaluation and targeted intervention.

For those diagnosed with coronary microvascular dysfunction, it is crucial to aggressively address all heart disease risk factors, even those not directly related to this condition. Smoking, for example, was not found to contribute to the risk of dysfunction in the study. However, it remains a known risk factor for heart disease, and managing it is essential. Collaborating closely with a cardiologist will help ensure comprehensive risk factor management personalized to your individual needs.

In conclusion, the recent study highlights the strong association between severe psoriasis and coronary microvascular dysfunction, which increases the risk of heart disease. This research underscores the importance of managing inflammation and psoriasis-related factors when assessing cardiovascular risk in individuals with psoriasis. By being proactive and working closely with healthcare professionals, individuals with psoriasis can take control of their heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.