Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder characterized by raised patches of thick red skin, covered with silvery scales that flake off easily. Lesions primarily appear on the elbows, knees, legs, lower back and scalp, but usually spare the face. Although not life-threatening, psoriasis greatly affects a person’s quality of life. Not only can it be physically painful, it can also be the cause of psychological and emotional distress because the red patches affect a person’s physical appearance.
Psoriasis is much more than just a skin disorder. Researchers now agree that inflammation is the primary cause of this ailment and categorize it as a systemic inflammatory or immune-mediated disorder. Inflammation causes the immune system to affect the normal cycle of life of skin cells. The rapid regeneration of the skin cells, quicker than normal, causes the raised patches associated with the disorder. In fact, most medications used to treat psoriasis have a direct impact on the immune system.
The inflammatory cause of psoriasis is apparently not inconsequential to the rest of the system. Researchers discovered that it also increases the risk of suffering from heart diseases such as myocardial infarction (heart attack). According to the results, people who have psoriasis are twice as likely to suffer from heart diseases as those who do not.
It is already a well-known fact that people with auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, have increased risks of suffering from heart disease. Auto-immune diseases cause a disturbance in a person’s immune system, inducing cells to attack healthy tissues and organs. This discovery supports the hypothesis of psoriasis as an inflammatory disease.
It is increasingly believed that inflammation is one of the malefactors in cardiovascular diseases. Although still at the preliminary stage, researchers are hoping their results will help them to better understand how inflammation contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease.
According to them, these results should also awaken health professionals to the fact that people suffering from psoriasis should be subjected to early detection tests for cholesterol problems, diabetes and hypertension. Controlling these factors by quitting smoking and modifying lifestyle habits, will help decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease.
Additional research is required to get a greater understanding of the role inflammation actually has on the human body. Genetic and biological factors, medications used in the treatment of psoriasis and other risk factors present in people suffering from psoriasis could also partly explain the increased risks of heart attacks in these patients.