People with psoriasis are at increased risk of developing abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), according to a new study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. In the study, “Nationwide Study on the Risk of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms in Patients With Psoriasis,” the team of researchers also found the greater the severity of psoriasis, the greater the risk for developing AAA.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a complex multifactorial disease associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of AAA increases with age and affects fewer than 2 percent of men age 65 or older.
Emerging evidence suggests that AAA is a focal representation of a systemic disease with a distinct inflammatory component, rather than a mere consequence of atherosclerosis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells. The disease is characterized by patches of abnormal skin.
“Psoriasis must be considered as a systemic inflammatory disease rather than an isolated skin disease. Increased awareness on heightened risk of other cardiovascular diseases, including AAA, in patients with psoriasis is also required,” said Usman Khalid, M.D., lead author and Ph.D. fellow in the Department of Cardiology at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Denmark, in a news release.
To investigate the risk of AAA in patients with psoriasis, the team of researchers used a nationwide cohort of all Danish residents age 18 or older followed from Jan. 1, 1997, until diagnosis of AAA; Dec. 31, 2011; migration; or death. A total of 59,423 patients with mild psoriasis and 11,566 patients with severe psoriasis were identified.
The results showed that the rate of developing AAA (per 10,000 person-years) was 3.72 for the general population, 7.30 for individuals with mild psoriasis, and 9.87 for those with severe psoriasis.
“Compared to the general population, the adjusted incidence rate ratios were significantly increased for severe psoriasis at 1.67. That’s a 67 percent greater risk of AAA likelihood for severe psoriasis sufferers,” Khalid said. “Clinicians need to educate and assist their patients with psoriasis in lifestyle and risk factor modification to facilitate cardiovascular disease risk reduction.”
According to the researchers, the results from the study add important evidence to the current knowledge of psoriasis as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and may require increased focus on heightened risk of AAA in individuals with psoriasis. Further research is warranted to delineate the mechanisms and consequences of this association.