Seven million Americans are plagued with psoriasis-a chronic skin condition that is characterized by raised, red, scaly plaques that can itch, crack and bleed, and can show up anywhere on the body. If it’s a localized, light case of psoriasis, the condition is burdensome, but in extreme cases, it can be disfiguring. As if that’s not bad enough, now research says that if you suffer from psoriasis, you may be at risk for other serious medical conditions.
Studies show that excessive inflammation is a critical feature of psoriasis. It’s this chronic inflammation that is also a characteristic of insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, according to the America Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Plus, studies using innovative techniques to evaluate cholesterol composition and function have shown that psoriasis patients have LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, that consists of smaller and denser cholesterol particles, a pattern observed in patients with diabetes. These smaller and denser particles are more likely to promote hardening of the arteries and cause heart attacks.
Another study found that patients with severe psoriasis may also die about five years younger than patients who do not have the disease, and 50 percent of this excess mortality is due to cardiovascular disease.
TIPS FOR PATIENTS WITH PSORIASIS:
– Eat a healthy, balanced diet
– Lead an active lifestyle
– Avoid smoking
– Limit alcohol consumption
– Maintain an ideal body weight
– Reduce stress
– Get routine screenings for cardiovascular risk factors
“Future research is necessary to better determine how skin disease severity affects the risk of developing insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, and whether successful treatment of psoriasis alters these risks,” says Philadelphia dermatologist Joel M. Gelfand. Perhaps that’s why a rigorous multi-center clinical trial, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is being planned to determine if treatment of psoriasis improves these conditions-a critical step necessary to evaluate whether successfully controlling psoriasis will lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, says AAD.
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