New York, Feb 6: Anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat severe psoriasis have the potential to prevent heart disease, according to researchers including one of Indian-origin.
The study showed that during one year of treatment, anti-inflammatory drugs or biologic therapy improved coronary artery plaque similar to the effect of a low-dose statin.
Psoriasis causes scaly skin patches, often on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. They have an elevated risk of heart disease and young patients with severe psoriasis are at twice the risk of having a first heart attack at 40-50 years of age.
In addition, psoriasis patients often have inflammation throughout the body and may be treated with anti-inflammatory biologic therapy when their skin condition is severe and topical treatments or phototherapy has failed.
"Psoriasis severity is related to the burden of coronary disease -- our findings suggest treating psoriasis may potentially benefit coronary heart disease," said Nehal Mehta, Chief at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US.
For the study, the researchers included 121 patients with severe psoriasis among which 89 took biological therapy and 32 used topical treatment.
The findings, published in Cardiovascular Research, showed that patients with severe psoriasis who took biologic therapy for one year had 8 per cent reduction in a frequent cause of heart attacks.
Conversely, coronary plaque burden increased by 2 per cent in patients who did not take the therapy.
"We found that these anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used to treat severe psoriasis also improve plaque in the coronary artery, making them more stable and less likely to cause a heart attack," Mehta noted.