Psoriasis, a skin condition that causes inflamed, scaly skin, is a common disease that affects a large number of people. However, many people are not aware of the connection between psoriasis and heart health.
The common factor between the two conditions is the presence of inflammation. Psoriatic inflammation causes itchy, burning, red skin while inflammation in the vascular system causes cardiovascular problems.
Although research has yet to determine if there’s a casual connection between psoriasis and heart disease, we do know that those with psoriasis are more likely to have heart disease. Some studies have shown that people with psoriasis are also three times more likely to experience a heart attack.
However, if you suffer from psoriasis, there are several things you can do to help protect yourself.
Talk to your primary care provider about your psoriasis.
Although treatment of your psoriasis often involves care from a dermatologist, it’s still important to let other doctors involved in your medical care know about your condition. Informing your primary care physician about your psoriasis diagnosis can help insure your doctor is aware of your increased risk for cardiovascular disease. You doctor may order labs or other diagnostic testing to asses your heart health.
Even if you’re showing no signs of cardiovascular problems, a psoriasis diagnosis is a good reminder that it’s important to not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for a variety of medical complications and has been directly linked to cardiovascular diseases, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
Exercise and eat a healthy diet.
Incorporating exercise and better food choices into your routine has been proven to help maintain good heart health. Diet may also have a positive effect on psoriasis. A heart-healthy diet includes healthy fats and whole grains. It also involves reducing your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium.
Add omega-3 to your diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for people who have psoriasis and increased risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids may lower your cholesterol levels and improve your cardiovascular system. Omega-3 fatty acids are building blocks in the production of hormones that help regulate a series of bodily functions. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may lower triglyceride levels. This means your blood vessels are less likely to accumulate the plaque that can lead to heart disease. Fish oil supplements are one way to increase omega-3 intake if you don’t get enough through your diet. Your doctor may advise you to take fish oil supplements if you have psoriasis and are at risk for heart disease.