According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, more than eight million people in the United States have psoriasis.

Now, research is showing the skin disease affects other organs in your body, including your heart.

When you think of psoriasis, you probably think of red, itchy, scaly skin patches. However, scientists are finding out this common disease affects more than the skin.

“That inflammation that’s present in the skin that’s causing this skin to swell and to thicken, it is much more than skin deep. It’s causing a full body inflammatory process.” said Ben Kaffenberger, Medical Dermatologist at Ohio State.

Recent studies have shown that inflammation impacts your body’s cardiovascular system.

“That patient with psoriasis has a much higher risk of having heart disease, dying of heart disease, than a patient that doesn’t.” Kaffenberger said.

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A recent review of 90 studies found patients with psoriasis had a higher risk of ischemic heart disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. They also had more heart disease risk factors, like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Another study found psoriasis was linked to an increased risk of developing a heart arrhythmia. But, there are things you can do to lower your risk of heart programs and improve your psoriasis symptoms.

“Stopping smoking, decreasing your alcohol consumption, eating more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, less processed foods.” Kaffenberger said.

Taking your prescribed medicines may also help. A study published in cardiovascular research found that biologic drugs used to treat psoriasis may also reduce the risk of heart disease.