Psoriasis may be linked to high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Investigators discovered that patients suffering from severe cases of the skin disorder are also more lucky to experience chronic high blood pressure.

The meta-study looked at a wide variety of medical records, available through the The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database. This database provides information on a large number of patients throughout the United Kingdom.

"Over the last several years, studies have shown that psoriasis, specifically severe psoriasis, is an independent risk factor for... patients suffering with this common skin disease [putting them] at an increased risk for other conditions such as heart attack and stroke. Knowing that psoriasis is tied to other health conditions, it's vital that we have a better understanding of the systemic effects it has on other areas of the body," Junko Takeshita, from Penn State's department of Dermatology, said.

Investigators noticed a clear dose-response relationship, indicating those patients with more extreme cases of the skin disorder usually exhibited more severe cases of hypertension. Patients with moderate to severe cases, where red patches caused by the disease cover three percent or more of the skin, are most at risk from hypertension.

"Our hypothesis is that the psoriasis and the inflammation that comes with it are making the hypertension worse, but certainly it could go the other way, and understanding which comes first has important implications for how we care for these patients and our understanding of how these two conditions are related," Takeshita told reporters.

Researchers are uncertain whether high blood pressure could lead to psoriasis, or if the common skin disorder could bring about hypertension. Investigators will need to conduct further research to determine the cause-and-effect relationship between the two conditions.

Psoriasis comes in five different forms, the most common of which is plaque psoriasis. This condition typically results in red patches, layered with dead skin cells, which cause a silver-white sheen on the markings. These can show up anywhere on the body, and can be mild, moderate of severe.

Blood pressure is determined by the amount of the fluid pumped by the heart, as well as resistance to the flow within arteries. Additional volume and thinner arteries each lead to higher readings. This condition can lead to several health problems in the heart and blood vessels.

"Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected,"  Mayo Clinic officials reported on a Web page on hypertension.

Study of the link between high blood pressure and psoriasis was detailed in the journal JAMA Dermatology

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