SATURDAY, March 13, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- The common skin ailment psoriasis may boost the risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular woes, probably through a shared inflammatory response, a new Danish study found.
"There is mounting evidence for psoriasis as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," study lead researcher Dr. Ole Ahlehoff, from Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, said during a Saturday morning press conference at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Atlanta. "We are nearing in on a point where we need to reconsider how to manage patients with psoriasis. We need to consider the question of if psoriasis patients are due for statin therapy earlier than predicted by traditional risk scores."
The Danish researchers tracked rates of psoriasis and a number of coronary problems for the country's entire adolescent and adult population for more than 10 years. They especially looked at more than 40,000 people with mild to severe psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition, from the start of 1997 through to the end of 2006.
After compensating for a wide range of possible variables, the researchers found that severe psoriasis raised the odds of heart attack by 24 percent, but no such significant rise was noted among people with a mild form of the disease. Odds for stroke were raised by 45 percent for those with moderate or severe psoriasis and by 19 percent for those with mild psoriasis, the study found.
Rates for the potentially dangerous irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation also rose by 51 percent in those with moderate or severe psoriasis and by 22 percent for those with mild disease. A history of undergoing angioplasty was 59 percent more likely in people with moderate or severe psoriasis and 29 percent more likely in those with a mild form of the condition.
People who were younger than 50 years of age at the beginning of the study and had moderate to severe psoriasis had considerably higher odds -- about double -- for both atrial fibrillation and angioplasty, compared to people without the condition, the researchers added.
Overall, having moderate to severe psoriasis boosted the odds of death from any cause by 67 percent, the Danish team found, but mild psoriasis did not up the death risk.
There's more on psoriasis at the National Psoriasis Foundation.