Unfavorable cardiovascular risk profiles in untreated and treated psoriasis patients
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that is associated with an increased cardiovascular risk profile. The systemic inflammation present in psoriasis, various systemic treatments for psoriasis and an increased prevalence of unhealthy life style factors may all contribute to this unfavorable risk profile. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of what is known about these risk factors in psoriasis, the way they influence the cardiovascular risk of psoriasis patients, and what can be done to reduce this risk. Genetic studies demonstrate that psoriasis and cardiovascular disease share common pathogenic features in which, for example inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α and IL-1 play an important role. The chronic inflammation in psoriasis has an unfavorable effect on the cardiovascular risk profile. Multiple cardiovascular risk factors seem to be influenced; the blood pressure, oxidative stress, dyslipidemia, endothelial cell dysfunction, homocysteine levels and blood platelet adhesion. Moreover, classic cardiovascular risk factors like smoking and obesity that have an increased prevalence among patients with psoriasis, indirectly also worsen the cardiovascular risk profile by stimulating the psoriasis activity. Systemic treatments in psoriasis reduce the cardiovascular risk by diminishing the inflammation, but it should be taken into account that most therapies also have adverse cardiovascular effects like dyslipidemia, hyperhomocysteinemia and hypertension. As a consequence preventive measures may be indicated at least during long-term treatments. Prospective research is warranted to accurately estimate the increased cardiovascular risk in psoriasis, to determine the underlying processes and to consider preventive measures according to the absolute risk of cardiovascular disease. The present overview provides data to advice health care providers to pay more attention to the cardiovascular risk profile in psoriasis patients.