Patients with Atopic Dermatitis Are at Increased Risk of Heart Attack

Researchers in Denmark recently reported that hospital-diagnosed atopic dermatitis is associated with a greater risk of myocardial infarction.

Hospital-diagnosed atopic dermatitis (AD) is associated with a greater risk of myocardial infarction (MI) according to the results of a recent study. Published in the journal BMJ Open on November 11, 2016, the study was conducted by Jette Lindorff Rils, of the Department of Dermatology at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues.

“The purpose of the present study was to estimate the long-term risk of MI in individuals with hospital-diagnosed AD compared with a birth-year-matched and gender-matched general population cohort,” said the researchers. They used data from population-based registries, and for each patient with AD, they identified 10 controls from the general population.

The researchers identified 4,814 patients who had been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis between 1977 and 2013, of whom 45% were male. “The median length of follow-up was 15.1 years in the atopic dermatitis cohort and 15.5 years in the matched general population cohort,” specified the researchers.

The researchers took several steps to increase the validity of their results. All of the atopic dermatitis patients had at least two separate hospital diagnoses of atopic dermatitis, and the study authors pointed out that they “followed patients with AD from as early as 1977 onwards for MI, immediately from the date of second AD diagnosis,” which allowed them to evaluate potential bias.

One limitation of the study is that most atopic dermatitis patients are not hospitalized, “and thus our findings may not be generalizable to individuals with mild atopic dermatitis treated by primary care physicians,” noted the researchers.

The main finding of the study, according to the authors, is that “Hospital-diagnosed AD was associated with substantially increased MI risk compared with the general population.” They concluded that “the early onset of AD, with most patients presenting during early childhood, may provide clinicians with a unique opportunity for promoting a heart healthy lifestyle in these young individuals and their families.”

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