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Sep 12, 2011

Psoriasis Increases Risk for Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke

The worse the psoriasis, the greater the risk for AFib and stroke.

Beyond the most common cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and hypertension, researchers have long investigated the relationship between a variety of other health conditions and cardiovascular health. In doing so, they have discovered links between seemingly unrelated health conditions and increased cardiovascular risk, which will prove useful in the worldwide fight against heart disease.

Most recently, Danish researchers analyzed the relationship between psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory disease, and risk for atrial fibrillation and stroke. Why? Inflammation is a common marker of cardiovascular risk, increasing risk for heart disease, among other cardiovascular conditions. And while some evidence has suggested a link between psoriasis and heart disease, the relationship between psoriasis and atrial fibrillation and stroke is unknown.

In this study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers followed the entire Danish population of roughly 4.5 million from 1997 to 2006. Among that population, over 36,500 had mild psoriasis and nearly 2,800 had severe psoriasis. They found that not only is psoriasis associated with increased cardiovascular risk, the more severely a patient suffers from psoriasis, the greater their risk for atrial fibrillation and stroke. For example, those with mild psoriasis were up to two times more likely to develop atrial fibrillation or stroke, while patients with severe psoriasis were nearly three times more likely to develop these conditions, in comparison with individuals without psoriasis.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence that psoriasis increases cardiovascular risk in patients. Therefore, it is important for patients with psoriasis to minimize their cardiovascular risk through lifestyle modification and medications, when necessary.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is psoriasis?

  • Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease causing skin redness and irritation. This condition occurs when skin cells rise to the skin’s surface too quickly, causing the build-up of dead skin cells.
  • Is psoriasis preventable?

  • Psoriasis seems to be a genetic condition for which there is no prevention. However, it can be treated through topical ointments, medications and/or phototherapy, which can minimize symptoms and help prevent infections.

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