MONDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- People with psoriasis who take a new class of drugs known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors may be at a lower risk for heart attack than their counterparts who only use topical medications to treat this inflammatory skin condition, a new study shows.
And patients taking older systemic medicines and phototherapy may also have a reduced heart attack risk compared to those using topical preparations, the study found.
Of 8,845 study participants, about 57 percent were treated with topical therapy only, 19 percent received a TNF inhibitor for at least two months and about 24 percent were treated with other medications or phototherapy. People who were treated with TNF inhibitors had a 50 percent lower risk, and those treated with other psoriasis drugs or phototherapy had a 46 percent lower risk for heart attack, than those who used topical medications alone.
The findings appear online Aug. 20 in the Archives of Dermatology.
TNF inhibitors, or blockers, are part of a class of drugs called biologics. They work by blocking key players in the inflammation cascade. Phototherapy uses laser or ultraviolet light to slow the rapidly growing skin cells that lead to psoriasis.
Psoriasis is marked by raised, reddish and itchy skin patches or plaques that may be covered with a silvery-white coating. Still, psoriasis is more than skin deep. People with this condition are at higher risk for developing heart attacks, strokes and certain types of cancer. This is likely related to underlying inflammation.
The new study can't say how, or even if, TNF blockers lower heart risks in people with psoriasis. "We know that reducing inflammation reduces risk of diabetes and other inflammatory processes, which could reduce risk for heart attack and stroke," said study author Dr. Jashin Wu, at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center
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