People with psoriasis, a condition linked to systematic and vascular inflammation as much as inflamed skin, are at risk of an aortic aneurysm — and the risk rises with the severity of their disease, regardless of their overall cardiovascular health, a new study reports.
The research paper, “Increased risk of aortic aneurysm (AA) in relation to the severity of psoriasis: A national population-based matched-cohort study,” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Previous studies had shown that patients with psoriasis have increased vascular inflammation in each aorta segment, which remained significant even after adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors and body mass index (BMI). But data looking specifically at psoriasis and its possible association with an aortic aneurysm (an abnormal bulge in the artery’s wall) is scarce.
Researchers investigated this risk in 34,301 patients with psoriasis registered in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. The patients were matched, by age and sex, with 137,204 controls without psoriasis. Both the patients and controls were followed for five years to identify those who subsequently diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.
Results, adjusted to medical history and medication used, show that patients with psoriasis were at an increased risk for such aneurysms and that this risk increased with disease severity. Moreover, when the risk was classified by age and sex, researchers found the increased risk higher in male patients than in female patients, and higher for people younger than 50 years compared to older patients.
This study had some limitations, the authors said, namely the lack of information regarding patients’ Psoriasis Area and Severity Index scores, or their smoking habits and alcohol consumption.
“We found patients with psoriasis to have relatively higher risk for [aortic aneurysm], even after adjustment, suggesting the involvement of other factors that are intrinsically linked to psoriasis and independent from established cardiovascular risk factors,” the researchers concluded, according to a news release. “These findings suggest that patients with psoriasis, especially younger males and those with severe psoriasis, should be screened more closely” to allow for interventions that might reduce their risk of serious complications.