I was reacting to the results of a study I was reading about that was published in this month’s Journal of Internal Medicine. You may have the same reaction when I tell you the details.
According to researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte if you have had a heart attack and suffer from psoriasis you’re 16% more likely to die from all causes than those who don’t have the common skin condition.
And the news gets even worse when you look specifically at heart disease related deaths.
If you have psoriasis and you’ve had a heart attack or stroke you are 26% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease…or suffer reoccurring heart attacks or strokes…than those heart patients who don’t have the skin condition.
So, at this point you might be wondering what’s going on here. How can a skin condition make you more likely to die from a heart attack?
It turns out that when you stop to take a closer look, the connection between psoriasis and heart disease is surprisingly not quite as far fetched as it might at first appear. In fact, they both share some things in common.
Chronic inflammation is the link between psoriasis and your heart
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition in which the skin cells that you naturally shed all the time are replaced much more quickly than is normal leading to a build up of psoriatic plaque. Similarly, it’s a build up of plaque…this time in the arteries that lead to your heart…that causes a heart attack.
And, of course, at the root of both conditions is some type of inflammatory process that we are still working to fully understand.
With 125-million people suffering with psoriasis worldwide the chances are pretty good that you…or someone else you care about…has it. And if you do and you have also suffered a heart attack, your risk of dying from heart disease just shot up by a frightening 26%.
But the good news is that knowing about your risk means you can start to do something about it.
You can start by making sure that you’re getting enough vitamin D. Studies suggest that at least 10% of Americans are deficient in this critical vitamin, while some experts think that the number is much higher. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to stiff arteries, high blood pressure, and ultimately a stroke or heart attack.
In addition, begin to focus on ways to reduce stress in your life including working reasonable hours and getting more sleep. And a few small lifestyle changes such as limiting your use of NSAID’s like Advil…which may increase your risk of heart attack…and adding heart friendly raw organic almonds to your snacking menu can add up to a big difference to your heart health.
“Prognosis following first-time myocardial infarction in patients with psoriasis: a Danish nationwide cohort study,” Ahlehoff et al., Journal of Internal Medicine, September 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2011.02368.x