A clinical study has found that a new treatment for psoriasis could significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin and joints that affects up to 3% of the population. This disease is associated with a greater risk of heart attack (infarction) and stroke. The goal of this clinical study was to show that a treatment to reduce skin inflammation in psoriasis patients could be associated with a decrease in vascular inflammation.
The study had positive results, as vascular inflammation decreased significantly in patients suffering from psoriasis who were treated with adalimumab, a biological anti-inflammatory compound. The study also showed a 51% decrease in C-reactive protein among patients treated with adalimumab compared to a 2% decrease among patients in the control group. These results are significant, as a high level of C-reactive protein is known to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In relation to the treatment of psoriasis, 70% of patients who received the compound presented with a major decrease in skin lesion severity, compared to 20% of patients in the control group.
"These findings are extremely encouraging for people suffering from psoriasis, as they face a greater risk of cardiovascular disease," explained Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, Director of the Research Centre of the Montreal Heart Institute and co-principal author of the study. He also emphasized the importance of regular medical follow-up for people with psoriasis to prevent cardiovascular events and establish an optimum therapeutic approach.
Imaging as a vascular inflammation measurement tool
Between May 2009 and June 2011, 30 patients suffering from moderate to severe psoriasis and with a history of coronary artery disease or multiple associated risk factors were followed for four months as part of a randomized clinical study. The patients were divided into two groups: the first group was treated with sub-cutaneous injections of adalimumab while the second group received no treatment or a routine treatment (i.e., topical formulation, phototherapy). Each patient's level of vascular inflammation was measured at the start and end of the study with positron emission tomography (PET), a type of medical imaging, to scan the carotid arteries and the ascending aorta.