This skin disease treatment could reduce heart disease risk

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In a new study, researchers found people with psoriasis who were given an anti-inflammatory treatment saw a decrease in levels of high-risk plaque in their heart arteries over the course of a year.

This is the first time an imaging study in humans has shown what one year of ongoing, untreated inflammation can do to arteries of the heart and that doctors can reverse this damage.

The study has implications for people with psoriasis and possibly those with other chronic inflammatory conditions such as HIV, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, who also have an increased risk of heart disease.

Chronic inflammation in people with psoriasis is linked to a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Previous research has linked psoriasis and the development of a dangerous type of plaque made up of dead cells and cell debris that is prone to rupture.

Having such plaque increases the risk of heart attack fivefold within 10 years.

In the study, the team tested 209 middle-aged people with psoriasis. Of these participants, 124 received biologic therapy and 85 were treated only with topical creams and light therapy.

Biologic therapy uses protein-based infusions to suppress inflammation.

The researchers performed heart CT scans on all participants before they started therapy. After one year, biologic therapy was linked to an 8% reduction in coronary plaque.

Those in the control group had a slight increase in coronary plaque progression.

Even after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and psoriasis severity, participants treated with biologic therapy had reduced coronary plaque.

The team says biologic therapy reduces systemic inflammation and immune activation, and it has a favorable impact on improving overall vascular health.

The findings suggest biologic therapy to treat psoriasis may be just as beneficial for heart arteries as commonly used cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

One author of the study is Dr. Nehal N. Mehta.

The study is published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.

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