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Researchers looked at medical data on all adults in Denmark. They found that people with psoriasis are more prone to develop heart failure and that the risk of heart failure rises as psoriasis gets more severe.
"Our findings underline the importance of regular evaluation and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in patients with psoriasis," said study lead author Dr. Usman Khalid. Chronic inflammation -- a component of both heart failure and psoriasis -- may be the link between the two, he added.
Psoriasis affects 125 million people worldwide. It is a lifelong disorder that causes red, scaly patches on the skin.
"Psoriasis should be considered a systemic inflammatory disease that affects the whole body, rather than an isolated skin lesion," Khalid explained. "Clinicians should consider early screening and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in patients with psoriasis -- such as obesity, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle -- in order to reduce the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and death."
Educating patients with psoriasis about the association between their skin condition and heart disease is key to encouraging them to adopt heart healthy behaviors, Khalid added.
The study was presented at a recent European Society of Cardiology meeting in Amsterdam. Findings presented at meetings typically are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Although the research found an association between psoriasis and increased risk for heart failure, it did not necessarily prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, Oct. 29, 2013