Psoriasis sufferers taking drugs such as Amgen's Enbrel and Abbott Laboratories' Humira were less likely to have a heart attack than those who were only treated with topical ointments, according to US researchers.
An estimated 7.5 million Americans suffered from psoriasis, characterized by itching or redness, according to WTVR.
Researchers from the Kaiser Permanante Los Angeles Medical Center found that patients given a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor were 50 percent less likely to suffer myocardial infarction (heart attack) compared to patients on other medications.
According to Reuters, these TNF blockers — also known as biological medications, which mimic the effects of the body’s own immune system — worked by blocking the activity of TNF, which caused inflammation.
Nearly 9,000 patients with psoriasis — who are already at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases because the condition causes inflammation in the body — participated in a study, reported in the Archives of Dermatology.
Taking the drugs reduced inflammation, with the effect of reducing heart risks as well as psoriasis symptoms, according to the research team.
While psoriasis sufferers who took TNF blockers had the fewest heart attacks, other common psoriasis treatments, such as cyclosporine, methotrexate and light therapy, were also associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
“This inflammation brings out diabetes, high blood pressure, and ultimately a heart attack” researcher Dr. Jay Wu said.
According to MedPage Today, psoriasis is linked to numerous cardiovascular risks, “from obesity and atherosclerosis to type 2 diabetes, stroke, MI, and cardiac death.”
The next phase of the study will look into the effects TNF blockers have on stroke.
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