Adults with psoriasis - especially younger patients with severe symptoms - appear to be at increased risk of a heart attack, a major study suggests.
Psoriasis can be very severe
A University of Pennsylvania team found a 30-year-old with severe symptoms had about three times the risk of somebody of a similar age without psoriasis.
They believe the immune abnormalities which cause the skin condition may also increase the risk of heart problems.
The study is published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Psoriasis, which occurs when the skin replaces itself too quickly, affects more than one million people in the UK. There are many different forms.
It usually appears as red, scaly patches that when scraped or scratched reveal fine silvery scales.
The patches may feel intensely uncomfortable, and cause pain. Some people develop a specific form of arthritis related to psoriasis.
Previous research has previously linked the condition to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.
However, the latest study, which focused on data on nearly 700,000 people from the UK, provides the most conclusive evidence yet.
Unlike other studies, it also took account of other factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.
It found that heart attacks were more common in patients with severe psoriasis (5.13 per 1,000 person-years) and mild psoriasis (4.04 per 1,000 person-years) than in patients without the condition (3.58 per 1,000 person-years).
Less impact with age
The relative risk seemed to decline with age. A 60-year-old patient with severe psoriasis had a 36% increased risk for heart attack.
The researchers said more work was needed to confirm their results, but that patients with psoriasis should be particularly encouraged to do everything possible to look after their heart health.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease. We already know that the risk of heart disease is increased for people suffering some other chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
"This large study therefore not only has potential implications for heart health advice to psoriasis patients, but also strengthens the evidence that all chronic inflammatory diseases might be linked to heart disease by a shared mechanism.
"If further research can unravel this mechanism, it is likely to be relevant for the treatment of all heart disease patients."