Chronic itch linked to heart disease, sleep loss, shows study

In a recent study from Johns Hopkins Medicine, researchers found that chronic itch is associated with sleep loss and other medical conditions. And chronic itch could also signal an increased risk of heart disease.

Many people suffer from a skin disorder known as chronic pruritic dermatosis, commonly referred to as “chronic itch.”

Chronic itch has been associated in previous studies with multiple sleep disturbances, including repeated nighttime and early morning awakenings.

The resulting loss of quality slumber may lead to fatigue, anxiety, and even depression, all of which have lasting and negative overall health impacts.

In the study, the team examined 5,560 US adults. They obtained background data on the participants from the 2005–2006 edition of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The study reveals more evidence about the connection between chronic itch and sleep problems.

The patients may be at greater risk for heart disease as indicated by elevated levels of a circulating protein sometimes used to predict heart problems.

The results confirm the link between sleep disturbances and chronic itch.

It is showing that pruritic dermatosis was linked to trouble falling asleep one to five times per month, waking during the night or too early in the morning, leg jerks and cramps while sleeping, and the impacts of fatigue (such as feeling overly sleepy during the day and having difficulty with memory).

The team also found that patients with elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were more likely to experience these disturbances. The liver produces CRP, which goes into the bloodstream in response to inflammation.

Researchers have used it as a blood test to predict cardiovascular disease when other biomarkers, primarily low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, are at normal levels.

This suggests that along with the reduction in quality of life brought on by chronic itch, these patients also may have heightened cardiometabolic risk.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about a surprising cause of abnormal heart rhythm, and this common nutrient may benefit people with heart failure.

For more information about heart disease, please see recent studies that common early sign of heart disease may also mean high cancer risk, and results showing that this diabetes drug may harm your heart health.

The study was conducted by Shawn Kwatra et al., and published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology.

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