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Patients with moderate to severe psoriasis have an increased risk for uncontrolled high blood pressure, according to a new study.
Published in JAMA Dermatology, the study collected data from more than 13,000 adults in the United Kingdom. Results showed that those with severe psoriasis were 48 percent more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure than adults without the dermatological condition. Even among people who are seeing their doctors and have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, those with psoriasis are less likely to have those numbers under control.
Psoriasis, though often thought of as an inconsequential skin condition, is actually a chronic disease of the immune system. The exact cause is unknown, but scientists theorize that the immune system mistakenly activates a reaction in the skin cells which speeds up their growth cycles. There are five major types of psoriasis. The most common form is plaque psoriasis which causes itchy skin spots, red patches and thick flaky lesions to form.
This study is the first to confirm an association between psoriasis and cardiovascular health, though the specific link is still uncertain.
“We still don’t fully understand why we see a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in people with psoriasis,” study leader Dr. Junko Takeshita, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia told HealthDay.
Chronic inflammation is a suspected correlation. Chronic inflammation in the blood vessels is thought to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Similarly, experts believe that the attack of healthy skin cells in patients with psoriasis also causes chronic inflammation.
These findings highlight the cardiovascular risks many people with psoriasis face.
“It’s important for primary care doctors to be aware that patients with psoriasis are at risk of uncontrolled hypertension,” Dr. Jerry Bagel, a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation medical board and director of the Psoriasis Treatment Center of Central New Jersey told HealthDay.