More than Skin Deep: Psoriasis Linked to Inflammation of Blood Vessels

Amy Jacob

Psoriasis patients are susceptible to artery inflammation, increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease.

Psoriasis patients are susceptible to artery inflammation, increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease.

Nehal Mehta, MD, clinical investigator with the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, remarked, “As the amount of psoriasis increases, the amount of blood vessel inflammation increases.”

In study results published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Mehta and colleagues compared 60 adults with psoriasis to 20 individuals without the condition — all were in their 40s and at low risk for heart disease.

Regardless of disease severity, the study results (PET scans) showed all of the psoriasis patients had increased levels of inflammation in their blood vessels. Furthermore, the worst psoriasis case was linked to a 41% increase in blood vessel inflammation.

Mehta said, “People really should know that psoriasis is not just a cosmetic disease.” Just one patch of psoriasis (or plaque) could spark a low-grade inflammation, speeding up their blood vessel disease.

According to Mehta, it is important to note that the study findings only highlighted an association between psoriasis and blood vessel inflammation, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. As such, Mehta and colleagues will investigate whether treating psoriasis could inevitably lower blood vessel inflammation.

In the interim, Mehta encourages psoriasis patients to go the classic route in maintaining cardiovascular risk — avoid smoking, maintain a balanced diet, and exercise.