Some psoriasis drugs may reduce your risk for heart disease, study finds

| Melissa Leavitt

You probably don’t need to be reminded about the importance of treating your psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Research shows that uncontrolled psoriatic disease can lead to problems affecting more than the skin and the joints. The inflammation that drives psoriatic disease can actually affect organs throughout your body, including your heart.

That makes uncontrolled psoriatic disease a two-for-one deal you probably don’t want, raising your risk for other conditions like cardiovascular disease. But researchers are beginning to identify treatments that are a much better two-for-one deal, offering relief from your psoriasis and reducing your risk of heart problems at the same time.

In research presented at the 2016 American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Washington, D.C., Dr. Jashin Wu, a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles, offered evidence that some psoriasis treatments may decrease your chances of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

The study compared two forms of psoriasis therapy: phototherapy and biologics. According to the results, while phototherapy may not address cardiovascular conditions as well, a certain kind of biologic may help patients avoid these problems.

Using a large U.S. medical claims database, Wu, a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board, and his colleagues compared the risk of cardiovascular outcomes among  more than 12,000 patients on phototherapy with more than 11,000 patients taking a kind of biologic known as a tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitor (TNFi). The TNFi’s included in the study included Humira (adalimumab), Enbrel (etanercept) and Remicade (infliximab).

TNFi’s block the action of tumor necrosis factor, which is a pro-inflammatory protein that helps trigger psoriasis.

According to the results, after about four months of treatment, the group of patients on biologics showed a significantly lower risk for a cardiovascular event than the group on phototherapy. The cardiovascular events researchers checked for were heart attacks, stroke and unstable angina, which is a kind of chest pain.

Analyzing medical records, like these researchers did, is the first step in understanding how best to manage cardiovascular risk in people with psoriasis. This allows researchers to observe trends of what has happened in the past.

The next step is to analyze patients in real time to see how their psoriasis medications may affect their heart health. Clinical trials are currently being conducted that will study how certain medications, including phototherapy and biologics, may affect patients’ cardiovascular risk going forward.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to work with your doctor to manage your risk for cardiovascular disease.




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For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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