By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Over the years in my cardiology practice, I encountered many patients with psoriasis, a chronic, autoimmune disease that can develop on any part of the body. The most common form appears as raised, red patches and a silvery buildup of dead skin cells.
As many as 7.5 million Americans have the condition, which researchers say puts them at higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Because psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, it generates inflammatory chemicals in the body and thus increases the likelihood of blood and blood vessel damage. And the research clearly indicates this is happening.
In 2013, Turkish researchers found an elevated level of endocan, a molecule related to damage in the inner endothelial lining of blood vessels, in patients with psoriasis. Such damage, called endothelial dysfunction, is regarded as the initial degradation in the development of atherosclerosis, also known as arterial disease. In their study, reported in the British Journal of Dermatology, 29 patients with psoriasis had significantly higher levels of endocan than did a healthy comparison group of 35 subjects.
Earlier, in 2011, I had seen a series of powerful statistical analyses from cardiology researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital showing an increased risk of cardiovascular problems among patients with psoriasis. The more advanced the skin disease, the greater was the risk of atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart attack, and venous thromboembolism (clot formation in veins that can migrate to the lungs). The researchers reported that psoriasis is associated with common signs of cardiovascular disease such as endothelial dysfunction and coronary calcification. “All patients” with psoriasis, they said, are at increased risk of vascular obstruction and those with severe psoriasis have a risk comparable to that of patients with diabetes. The observations were based on a comparison of cardiovascular events among more than 35,000 Danish patients with psoriasis and a national health database of more than 4 million Danes.
Thus, in both small and large studies, there is convincing evidence of an association and strong reason for anyone with psoriasis to have regular cardiovascular checkups.
The Sinatra Solution for Psoriasis
My recommendation to heart patients with psoriasis over the years was to follow an anti-inflammatory diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry. Stay away from fried foods, red meat, and sugar. In recent years, I have learned that eliminating gluten (grains and flour products) can make a big difference for psoriasis sufferers. The condition also has an allergy component.
Helpful supplements include omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish or squid oil (1-2 g daily) and CoQ10 (100-200 mg daily).
Earthing is also very helpful because it helps put out the inflammatory fire. I’ve heard from a number of people whose psoriasis has been helped by Earthing. I’ve personally been helped as well with my mild psoriasis.
- Ahlehoff O, et al. Psoriasis and risk of atrial fibrillation and ischaemic stroke: A Danish Nationwide Cohort. Eur Heart J, 2011, published online before print.
- Ahlehoff O, et al. Psoriasis carries an increased risk of venous thromboembolism: A Danish Nationwide Cohort Study. PLoS One, 2011; 6(3):e18125.
- Ahlehoff O. Psoriasis and cardiovascular disease: epidemiological studies. Dan Med Bull, 2011;58(11):B4347.
- Balta I, et al. Elevated levels of endocan in patients with psoriasis vulgaris: correlations with cardiovascular risk and activity of disease. Br J Dematol, 2013.
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