The World Health Organization recently began raising awareness for the risks that come with high blood pressure, and with this they recommended that healthcare professionals routinely scan for the health condition in people with psoriasis, an action praised by the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA).

Psoriasis is a critical, inflammatory, noncommunicable disease that affects over 125 million people internationally. People with psoriasis are known to have an elevated risk of developing grave co-morbid conditions, such as:

Additionally, psoriasis is linked to a greater incidence of hypertension – a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Lars Ettarp, President of IFPA, commented:

“Healthcare professionals need to recognize the elevated risk that people with psoriasis carry for developing high blood pressure, and include regular tests for hypertension and other known risk factors of cardiovascular disease for this patient group.

There are studies indicating that treating psoriasis early and efficiently lowers the risk for co-morbid conditions, such as high blood pressure, and this needs to be taken into account when developing a treatment regimen for an individual with psoriasis.”

This year’s World Health Day aimed to highlight the global health crisis of high blood pressure and how it can be avoided, treated, and controlled. Issues associated with high blood pressure cause over 9 million deaths annually around the world and affect more than one in three adults, according to the WHO.

High blood pressure is also linked to several behavioral risk factors, including:

  • excessive use of alcohol
  • physical inactivity
  • salt intake

Researchers point out that there are other factors for hypertension and cardiovascular disease, like inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis and genetic conditions that cannot be avoided. However, attempting to minimize these cases by treating them can decrease the chances of further complications.

A separate study from 2009, conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, suggested that psoriasis is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure in women. They said more studies need to be carried out to determine whether treating psoriasis might also reduce the risk of diabetes and hypertension.

In other research released last year, psoriasis patients were encouraged to be aware of their condition and its link to other serious illnesses. These patients are at an increased risk for insulin resistance, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and abnormal levels of cholesterol.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald