Heart disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in Australia. Psoriasis patients have a higher risk of heart disease than people without psoriasis. The inflammatory response of psoriasis can affect arteries especially if other risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking are present. The good news is that you can reduce many of these risk factors and thereby reduce your risk of heart disease. Working with your GP, The Psoriasis Institute can help you reduce your risk factors.
Psoriasis is a sign of increased inflammation in the body, which can affect arteries especially if other risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking are present. The most common heart condition effecting people with psoriasis is atherosclerosis. It is a condition where arteries around your heart have a build up of cholesterol plaque and if an artery occludes not enough oxygen gets to the heart muscle and a heart attack can result.
For all of these risk factors lifestyle changes are very important. In addition your doctor can prescribe medications that can help reduce these risk factors.
Elevated cholesterol levels are often caused by overproduction of cholesterol in our body or with high-fat diets and inactivity. Elevated cholesterol is often responsible for narrowing of arteries around the heart and responsible for heart attacks and stroke. Eating a balanced diet low in saturated fat, weight loss and being physically active can help reduce cholesterol. Also medications like statins can help reduce cholesterol significantly.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (consistently over 140/80) can cause enlargement of your heart and heart failure but also is a major risk factor for heart attacks and stroke. Some people can heave a headache when their blood pressure is high but many people have no symptoms. Keeping a normal body weight and reducing dietary salt intake are the most important things for lowering blood pressure. Many medications can also help if necessary.
Diabetes is a disease that leads to increased blood sugars. This can lead to problems with your large arteries (heart attacks and stroke) and small arteries (blindness, foot ulcers and kidney problems). The most common cause of diabetes is obesity and a wrong diet, but there are also inherited factors. Diet is very important to control diabetes but often medications such as metformin are also necessary.
Smoking is one of the most important modifiable risk factors. Smoking leads to changes in your arteries that make them much more prone to accumulate cholesterol and also increases the risk of a blood clot. There is lots of therapies that can help you stop smoking.
Stress is not only a risk factor for heart disease but it also can lead to flare-ups of your psoriasis. Whenever we are stressed or worried, hormones get excreted into our blood and this leads to unfavourable biochemical changes. A healthy diet, exercise, yoga, tai chi and meditation can help reduce stress.
While small amounts of alcohol (1 standard drink/day) are safe for the heart it is important to know that excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk for stroke by elevation of blood poressure. Excessive alcohol consumption also increases the risk for cancer.
Excess weight increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes by increasing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. Maintaining a healthy weight is very important. Especially abdominal (tummy) fat is very metabolically active. Several strategies for weight loss and maintaining a normal weight are available.
Physical inactivity also increases your heart disease risk. 30 minutes of daily exercise are usually recommended. A personal trainer or exercise physiologist as well as your doctor can help put together an exercise programme that is right for you.
You can also make an appointment with your GP or a preventive cardiologist at the psoriasis institute to discuss your cardiovascular risk further.
Chronic inflammation plays a major role in the development of atherosclerotic cholesterol plaques, with a subsequent increased risk of heart disease. Two particular subgroups of psoriasis are particularly at risk- chronic plaque psoriasis and flexural psoriasis.
Psoriasis patients can elect to have a health heart check appointment with our Specialist Psoriasis nurse practitioner. You weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels will be measured. If needed we will work in with your GP, as well as our specialist cardiologists, dietician and dermatologists to reduce the inflammation of psoriasis and reduce your risk factors for heart disease.
The Psoriasis Institute comprises a team of specialist nurses, doctors, nutritionist, dieticians, dermatologists, rheumatologists, and cardiologist. We recognise psoriasis as a condition that can affect many areas of your body including your skin, joints and heart. Additionally, many different treatments are available including medical, dietary and naturopathic.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition that can affect many organs including the skin, joints and heart. The inflammation can increase cholesterol deposits, known as plaques in the arteries of your heart, increase the likelihood of heart disease. Managing other risk factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, stress, smoking and excess weight can reduce your risk factors for heart disease. Our team of specialist nurses, GPs, dietitians and cardiologists can assist.
Assoc Prof Karam Kostner - Consultant Cardiologist
Avoiding certain foods in my diet has helped keep my psoriasis under control. Thank you for the insight and guidance.