Psoriasis wasn’t associated with higher risk of heart attacks or strokes when people with the skin condition didn’t have a family history of cardiovascular disease, the study found.
But when people with mild psoriasis and a family history of major adverse cardiac events like heart attacks and strokes were compared to psoriasis sufferers without such a family history, their risk was 28 percent higher. With severe psoriasis and a family history of heart problems, the risk was 62 percent higher.
“It is generally believed that patients with psoriasis are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to the inflammatory nature of psoriasis,” said lead study author Dr. Alexander Egeberg of the University of Copenhagen.
“While psoriasis itself may still confer an independent cardiovascular risk compared with the general population, our findings suggest that there may exist a genetic predisposition for cardiovascular disease,” Egeberg added by email.
To assess the link between psoriasis and a family history of heart disease, Egeberg and colleagues reviewed Danish data from 1997 to 2011 on more than 2.7 million people, including almost 27,000 individuals with mild psoriasis and about 4,500 with severe psoriasis.
At the start of the study, people were around 27 years old on average.Approximately two-thirds of those with psoriasis in the study had a family history of cardiovascular disease, which was slightly more common with severe psoriasis than with mild psoriasis.
Without a family history of heart disease, the rate of major adverse cardiac events was 1.3 per 10,000 people per year among those who didn’t have psoriasis. That compared with 1.85 cases per 10,000 people per year with mild psoriasis and about 6 per 10,000 with severe psoriasis.
But after researchers adjusted for other factors that might influence the odds of heart attacks and strokes, they no longer found a difference between people with psoriasis and the general population when there was no family history of cardiovascular disease.
One limitation of the study is that researchers excluded more than 2.6 million people who had incomplete data on family history in Danish health registry records, which made the study population skew younger, the authors note. This makes it unclear if the findings would apply to people diagnosed with psoriasis later in life, the authors said.