New research can help people with psoriasis understand how to better protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD). These findings are important for people living with psoriasis, as they are more likely to have CVD risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and hypertension (high blood pressure). Psoriasis — which causes inflammation on the skin and inside the body — also increases a person’s risk of dying from heart disease.
For the study — published in August in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology — authors recruited 242 people with chronic plaque psoriasis. About half of the study participants were men and half were women. The study authors collected information about how physically active each of the participants were and performed heart tests.
Researchers measured each participant’s pulse wave velocity (PWV). PWV measures the stiffness of arteries (blood vessels that carry blood from the heart around the body). A person’s PWV can predict their risk of CVD: The higher the PWV, the stiffer the arteries. When the arteries harden, they have a more difficult time transporting blood. This can lead to coronary artery disease, the most common type of CVD and the leading cause of death in the United States.
When the authors measured the participants’ PWV, they found that a little more than 1 out of 5 had arterial stiffness. However, people with psoriasis who got higher levels of physical activity were more likely to have healthy arteries.
This study also found that more than 1 out of 4 people with psoriasis had problems with heart function, based on a test that calculates diastolic reflection area. This measurement describes how much blood enters the left ventricle (the chamber of the heart that pumps blood out to the rest of the body).
These results show that people with psoriasis can protect against future heart problems by getting more physical activity. The authors wrote, “Our study describes a significant relationship between exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, and PWV, a preclinical indicator of future CVD risk, in patients with psoriasis.”
For optimal heart health, experts often recommend getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, broken up into multiple sessions. Make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new workout regimen.