A Heart-to-Heart About Heart Disease Risks
My wife got the amazing opportunity to visit the National Institutes of Health and meet one of the renowned cardiologist/investigators, Dr. Nehal Mehta. After spending the morning talking to him about the links between psoriasis and heart disease and diabetes, she came home loaded with information to share with me. I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes at her. This isn’t the first time she has tried to draw attention to my health and pry me away from unhealthy habits. However, as I read over the information, I realized that these risks are something everyone with psoriasis needs to take seriously.
Researchers looked at 3,603 patients with severe psoriasis against 14,330 without any exposure to the disease. They looked at a variety of different factors, such as history of smoking, age, gender and most importantly, history of cardiac events. What they found is that patients with severe psoriasis are at significantly greater risk for major adverse cardiac events, including myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular mortality. Even more astonishingly is that severe psoriasis confers a 6.2% absolute risk of major adverse cardiac events over a 10-year period in addition to a patient’s baseline cardiovascular risk.1
I don’t know about you, but when I read that it stopped me in my tracks. My dad had a cardiac incident when my youngest was a baby, and I remember thinking how scary it was that he could appear healthy one day and be in ICU the next. I have a family history of heart disease and severe psoriasis, so my mortality is smacking me in the face at the moment. My psoriasis is slowly creeping back to the severe state it used to be, and I can’t help but realize that my risks of a heart attack are creeping up too.
I’m not a fortune teller and don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that I can talk to my doctor and be proactive. I get bogged down at times with all the side effects of biologic medicines, but the fact is that they work the best against fighting psoriasis when it gets to the severe stage. What this study suggests is that by reducing the severity of my disease (and in turn, inflammation) I can reduce my risks of having an adverse cardiac event. A heart attack is scarier to me than possible side effects.
I also am scheduling a physical with my primary care doctor and requesting a full bloodwork panel. My doc won’t be able to predict if I will have a heart attack, but if there are any warning signs that I might be even more at risk, I want to know now. Tests can sometimes be scary to me, but I think I would rather know than live with my head in the sand.
Guard your heart
My advice to all my other Psoldier brothers and sisters out there fighting the good fight against this disease is to be proactive. Comorbidities of this disease are real. Psoriasis affects your WHOLE body, not just your skin. If there is inflammation in the outside, you can bet there is inflammation on the inside.
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