Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation both on your skin and inside your body. Due to chronic inflammation, psoriasis can damage your cardiovascular system over time and increase your risk of heart problems.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis causes characteristic scaly, patchy plaques on the skin that can be itchy and painful. Plaques form due to unusually rapid turnover of skin cells. Joints are affected in about one-third of individuals with the condition.
Psoriasis, like other autoimmune illnesses, provokes an exaggerated immune response against the body tissues, leading to inflammation throughout your body. This inflammation can affect several systems in the body over time, including the cardiovascular system.
What is the link between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease?
Psoriasis has been linked to several cardiovascular conditions, even in those whose symptoms of the disease are being managed.
Although the relationship between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease has been a source of debate for some time, growing data supports the belief that psoriasis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. People who have any kind of psoriasis have approximately three times higher risk of getting a heart attack than people who do not have psoriasis.
Psoriasis and heart disease
When inflammation occurs in the blood vessels, plaque can build up within the walls of the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. Blood flow to the heart may slow down or even stop entirely, thus increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
Some psoriasis treatments can also result in abnormal cholesterol levels, which may cause the arteries to stiffen and increase the risk of heart attack. Those who suffer from psoriasis are also at an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Psoriatic arthritis and heart arrhythmia
Psoriatic arthritis affects many people with psoriasis at some point in their lives. Studies have shown that psoriatic arthritis is associated with an increased risk of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and other cardiovascular issues.
People who suffer from psoriasis are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), and elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). It is unknown why this is the case, but it may shed light on why some individuals who have psoriasis also have heart problems.
4 ways to reduce the risk of a cardiovascular disease
What you put into your body has a huge impact on your psoriasis and your heart health. Eat a heart-healthy diet rich in the following:
- Whole grains
- Lean protein
- Healthy fats (olive and flaxseed oils)
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries
Exercising regularly is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting optimal heart function. Examples of exercises to include in your regimen include:
3. Reduce stress
Reducing stress can have a huge impact on your overall health. Stress is a known risk factor for many conditions, including psoriasis and heart disease. Manage your stress levels with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation.
4. Avoid smoking
Smoking increases your risk of developing psoriasis flare-ups and developing heart disease. Talk to your doctor about strategies and medications available that can help you quit the habit.
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Habashy J. Psoriasis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-overview
National Psoriasis Foundation/USA. Getting at the Heart of Psoriasis. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/getting-at-the-heart-of-psoriasis/
Jindal S, Jindal N. Psoriasis and Cardiovascular Diseases: A Literature Review to Determine the Causal Relationship. Cureus. 2018;10(2):e2195. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898839/
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