Want to reduce your risk of heart attack? Treat your psoriasis

| Melissa Leavitt

If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, you might be tired of hearing about your risk for cardiovascular disease. As you may already know, the systemic inflammation that drives psoriatic disease can also be the culprit behind heart disease.

But here’s the good news. According to a recent review, treating your psoriatic disease could also decrease your chances of experiencing a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event.

Range of treatments reviewed

The review analyzed published studies on the association between systemic treatments and cardiovascular events in people with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis. Based on the findings of these individual studies, researchers then analyzed the results together to determine how these treatments affected cardiovascular risk. Treatments analyzed in the study included tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitor biologics; disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate; corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Results from the review, which, according to the authors, is the first to investigate the connection between treatment and cardiovascular risk in rheumatic arthritis and psoriatic disease, was published earlier this month in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Researchers included 28 studies on rheumatoid arthritis and six on psoriatic disease, which involved in total almost 500,000 patients.

Systemics helps the most

Because of the relatively small number of psoriatic disease studies, the researchers noted, they could only analyze the effects of all systemic treatments together. According to the results, systemic therapy for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis was associated with a 25 percent reduction in risk for cardiovascular events.

These findings are in line with previous research analyzing the effect of psoriatic disease treatments on cardiovascular disease. A study published last August found that TNF-alpha inhibitors could reduce the risk of heart attack in people with psoriasis by almost 75 percent. Another study from last June found that Enbrel (etanercept), a TNF-alpha inhibitor, is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular risk markers.

In people with rheumatoid arthritis, TNF-alpha inhibitors were associated with a 30 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular events, while methotrexate was associated with a 28 percent risk reduction, the researchers reported.

Could steroids raise the risk?

However, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis with corticosteroids was associated with a 47 percent increase in risk for cardiovascular events, according to the results. This increase in risk could be connected to the weight gain and increase in blood pressure that can come with corticosteroid use, the researchers noted.

More studies, including prospective, controlled trials, are needed to fully explore the impact of systemic treatment on cardiovascular risk in psoriatic disease and rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers conclude.


Driving discovery, creating community

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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