Psoriasis and the link to cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular (heart) disease is a life-threatening illness – often resulting in heart attack and stroke. It has a number of risk factors; other conditions that can put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, stress and obesity. Studies suggest that the aforementioned risk factors are more likely to present in a psoriasis patient than a non-psoriasis patient. The link between heart disease and psoriasis is part of ongoing research and much is still to be known about the connection. Having psoriasis does not make heart disease an inevitable outcome. 
Change what you can
As with many conditions, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and, therefore, reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Similarly there are things completely out of your control such as increased risk based on age, gender, ethnicity and hereditary occurrences. 
The following are examples of things you can change to reduce your risk: 
  • Don’t smoke – smoking has a range of heart health issues associated with it – blood clots and reduced oxygen in the blood are two examples. All health authorities recommend that stopping smoking be a first step to taking better care of your heart. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight – obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and other issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Losing weight so that you are in a healthy range can have significant health benefits and greatly reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. 
  • Reduce stress levels – as well as being a trigger for flare ups of psoriasis, stress can also greatly increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Where possible you should avoid high stress situations. Reducing stress may mean assistance and understanding from others. 
  • Be more active – physical activity is recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle and can contribute significantly to a reduced risk of heart disease. Not all exercise needs to be intense; stamina and ability can be built on. In this case sudden and heavy exercise should be avoided; instead follow a regular exercise regime and gradually increase. It is important to consult your doctor if you are concerned about physical activity due to an existing health condition or if you are not sure what is suitable for you. 
  • Control cholesterol levels – high cholesterol levels can narrow or block the blood vessels which may lead to heart attack and stroke. Maintaining healthy levels can involve some of the aforementioned changes; not smoking, eating healthily and being active can all reduce cholesterol levels. 
  • Control your blood sugar (diabetics) – if you have been diagnosed with diabetes then controlling your blood sugar as per your physician’s advice is essential – this is a significant factor in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. A high percentage of diabetes patients develop heart disease. 
  • Reduce drinking alcohol – excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of heart disease. Limiting intake to no more than two to three units per day for women or three to four units for men is advised. Avoiding alcohol all together is advised.