- Review of 21 studies finds common blood pressure drugs increase risk of psoriasis
- Medications including ACE inhibitors and beta blockers have been linked to the condition
- About 1.1 million people in the UK and 8 million in the US have the skin condition
One study suggested that blood pressure pills taken by millions of Britons may increase the risk of developing psoriasis.
The disorder results in red and flaky skin – usually on the elbows, knees and scalp – and may be genetic or be caused by an injury or an adverse reaction to medications.
Previous studies have linked pills that treat high blood pressure to a higher rate of the condition, but so far the results have been ‘inconsistent’.
Now researchers at Iwa Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea, say they have shrugged the link after reviewing 21 studies involving 12 million people around the world.
He noted that ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) and thiazide diuretics all increased the risk of developing psoriasis by up to two-fold.
But independent experts reacted to the findings, saying they were still not convinced there was a clear link, or that it was enough to justify not taking the drugs.
He pointed out that the researchers did not consider whether having high blood pressure in the first place increases the risk, or increases obesity, for example.
About 1.1 million people in the UK and 8 million Americans have psoriasis. Most are only affected by small patches of flaky skin that are itchy or sore, but for others it can affect their quality of life.
Psoriasis affects approximately 1.1 million people in the UK and 8 million Americans. Most people are only affected by small patches of flaky skin that are itchy or sore, but for others it can affect their quality of life.
study published in, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacologyfound that people taking ACE inhibitors were twice as likely to develop the skin condition than the general population.
Meanwhile, people taking beta blockers were 1.4 times more likely to have psoriasis.
People taking CCBs (1.5 times) and thiazide diuretics (1.8 times) were also more likely to develop the condition.
The researchers said there was ‘no significant difference’ between the four blood pressure drugs and the increased risk of psoriasis.
ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and thiazide diuretics may cause skin conditions by triggering the body to release inflammatory molecules, which is one of the major underlying mechanisms for the development of psoriasis, he suggested.
Meanwhile, CCBs can disrupt how the body regulates calcium, which can eventually lead to a long-lasting condition.
Based on the findings, patients using anti-hypertensive drugs should be carefully monitored for psoriasis, he said.
But, reacting to the findings, Professor Angela Clerke, an expert in biomedical sciences at the University of Reading, said the analysis may have been biased toward finding a link between the drug and skin conditions.
Propranolol is a common beta blocker prescribed for patients with hypertension in the UK
She said: ‘I am concerned that the approach may have missed studies without a link because it may not have been reported.
‘It may be useful to know how many studies do not report psoriasis.’
Some of the studies they examined had only a few patients or only female patients and there was a ‘huge bias’ for one study, he said.
Professor Clerk said: ‘I guess I’m not sure what exactly this particular meta-analysis shows is really novel or useful.
‘There is no comparison between drug classes, so there can be no recommendation which is better for people with a tendency to psoriasis.’
The team did not examine the risks of different genders, or whether secondary conditions in people with high blood pressure — such as obesity — cause the skin condition, he said.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, scaly patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
These patches usually appear on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on the body.
Most people are only affected by small patches. In some cases, the patches may be itchy or painful.
Psoriasis affects about 2 percent of people in the UK.
It can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under the age of 35, and affects men and women equally.
People with psoriasis produce more skin cells than they should – replacing old cells every three to seven days instead of every three to four weeks.
Patches of dry skin are the resultant buildup of skin cells.
Although this process is not fully understood, it is thought to be related to a problem with the immune system.
The immune system is your body’s defense against disease and infection, but it mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells in people with psoriasis.
Psoriasis can run in families, although the exact role of genetics in causing psoriasis is unclear.
Many people’s psoriasis symptoms start or get worse because of a certain event, called a trigger.
Possible triggers of psoriasis include injury to your skin, throat infections and the use of certain medications.
The condition is not contagious, so it cannot be spread from person to person.