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Thursday 20th June 2019

Psoriasis linked to heart risk

22nd November 2011

Psoriasis can have an indirect effect on people's heart health, according to a recent, as yet unpublished US study.

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The researchers found that people with psoriasis tended to benefit less from getting the "healthy" form of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL).

The reason seems to be linked to inflammation, but the finding will need to be confirmed by follow-up studies.

Statistically speaking, other studies have made light of a correlation between having psoriasis and having a stroke, heart attack, or dying of heart disease.

The statistical risk of heart attack for people who have psoriasis is even more pronounced in people whose symptoms are moderate to severe.

Lead author Nehal Mehta, director of the Inflammatory Risk Clinic in the preventive cardiology program at the University of Pennsylvania, said that anecdotal evidence among researchers pointed to a lowering of HDL in states of inflammation, of which psoriasis is an example.

Researchers have noticed the same dip in blood HDL levels in people who have rheumatoid arthritis or obesity.

Mehta said that the finding suggested chronic inflammation may even alter the composition of HDL, making it less beneficial.

For the study, the researchers measured the cholesterol levels of 78 people.

All of the study subjects had psoriasis.

As a part of measuring cholesterol levels, the researchers counted the approximate number of molecules, as well as the size of the chained-together lipoproteins.

The researchers compared the results of their cholesterol measurements to 84 people who did not have psoriasis, and found that "bad" cholesterol was much more prevalent in people who had the skin condition.

Particles of "good" cholesterol were also composed of fewer lipoprotein chains, making them smaller and less effective.

LDL hardens over time, and ideally, HDL removes it from arterial cells and stops it from hardening the body's blood vessels.

But people who had psoriasis were 25% less protected by HDL, on average.

Unfortunately, the researchers were not able to go any deeper, due to the inherent limitations of statistics.

Nevertheless, scientists are excited about the prospect of further research.

Joel M. Gelfand, an assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology, said that scientists had been able to show that psoriasis was an important risk factor for vascular disease, and that now they may finally be able to identify and ultimately treat the pathways by which psoriasis increased these risks.


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