Skin health and heart disease—is there a connection?
It’s not something we normally think about. But there is some evidence showing that if you have certain skin diseases—like psoriasis or eczema—you may be more at risk for heart disease.
February is American Heart Month—a time when people can focus on their cardiovascular health. This is a good idea for everyone, as heart disease continues to be the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States.
Turns out that your skin can warn you about your heart health. Here’s how.
How Skin Health and Heart Disease Are Related
There are three main ways that your skin may warn you about your cardiovascular health:
- It develops a disease that may increase the risk of heart disease.
- It contains inflammation that may then move on to the rest of the body.
- It shows signs of stress that are related to circulation and heart health.
In the following list, we examine all of these types of developments.
Skin Health and Heart Disease Sign 1: You have psoriasis.
Keep in mind that scientists aren’t sure of this yet, but there has been some evidence that psoriasis may be linked to heart disease.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that three in four people with psoriatic arthritis have coronary plaques—a buildup of hardened plaque in the arteries—which can lead to heart disease.
Mild psoriasis doesn’t appear to affect the risk of heart disease. But moderate or severe psoriasis has been found to affect the heart and blood vessels. The problem is inflammation. Psoriasis causes inflammation on the skin and inside the body. Long-lasting inflammation damages blood vessels and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The good news is that treating psoriasis can help. The AAD notes that in some studies, people who treat moderate or severe psoriasis have fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes, and fewer heart-related deaths. (Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about treatment.)
Skin Health and Heart Disease Sign 2: You have rosacea.
The AAD says it’s not clear yet whether rosacea increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke: “Findings from a few studies suggest the answer is yes.” But other studies haven’t found a connection.
People are complex and “many things can contribute to a person’s risk of developing heart disease…” What the studies have shown is that people with rosacea seem to have more risk factors for heart disease than people without rosacea.
These risk factors include unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and higher C-reactive protein levels (which indicate systemic inflammation).
If you have rosacea, do your best to treat it. Then keep an eye on your other risk factors to reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
Skin Health and Heart Disease Sign 3: You have eczema.
As recently as 2018, emerging research demonstrated that people with severe atopic dermatitis (another name for eczema) had:
- a 40 percent increased risk of heart attack and atrial fibrillation
- a 70 percent greater risk of heart failure
- a 20 percent higher risk of stroke
In a later review of 19 different studies, researchers found that risks of cardiovascular disease and certain cardiovascular events increased depending on the seriousness of a person’s eczema symptoms.
Severe eczema was associated with an increased risk of:
- angina (chest pain caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart)
- heart failure
- heart attack
- cardiovascular-related death
Overall, people who had more active eczema (frequent eczema flares) were more at risk than those who had active eczema only some of the time. Researchers speculated that inflammation was the key. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that increases overall body inflammation, and inflammation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
They also cautioned that long-term use of oral corticosteroids to treat eczema could have side effects like increased blood pressure and cholesterol, which could lead to heart disease.
If you have moderate to severe eczema, focus on reducing inflammation. Then watch for other potential heart disease risk factors.
Skin Health and Heart Disease Sign 4: You’re suffering from inflammation.
One of the things we’ve learned a lot about in recent years is inflammation and how bad it is for your skin health and overall health.
Scientists now know that the inflammation in your body can affect your skin—and vice versa. It’s considered to be one of the driving forces behind some of our most series diseases today, including heart disease. It’s also a major factor in skin aging and other inflammatory conditions like dryness, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Even if you don’t have any of these skin diseases, you can still have inflammation. Dry skin, acne, redness, and accelerated aging are all signs that inflammation is affecting your skin.
Properly caring for the skin with products that lower inflammation helps the skin and the body as a whole.
A regular healthy skincare routine will help you keep a lid on inflammation. Even if your skin is just dry, know that dry skin develops cracks that let in damaging environmental elements that can stimulate inflammation. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your skin is regularly getting the moisture it needs to protect the skin cells underneath.
Skin Health and Heart Disease Sign 5: You’re noticing other skin problems.
The skin can signal potential heart problems when it develops a disease of its own. Psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema may all increase your risk of heart disease, which is another reason it’s important to treat those conditions as best you can.
If your skin starts showing signs of stress in other ways, though, it may be telling you to check on your heart health. Here are some examples:
- Blue or purple color: If your skin turns blue or purple—particularly your toes or fingers—it could mean that your blood isn’t getting enough oxygen.
- Blue or purple net-like pattern: This is a more subtle sign, but you will likely notice it if it occurs. The skin shows a net-like pattern on the arm or leg or elsewhere, particularly when the person feels chilly. Then when they warm up, the pattern goes away. This may be nothing to worry about, but it could also signal a blocked arteryt’s best to have it checked.
- Swollen feet and lower legs: This means that fluid is building up in these areas, and may be a sign that your heart isn’t working properly. It could also be a sign of chronic venous insufficiency, which occurs when the veins can’t push blood back to the heart very well.
- Shiny, hairless legs: This could be a sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. Narrowed arteries are a sign of cardiovascular disease.
- Yellowish-orange, waxy growths: These are cholesterol deposits that may form in the corners of your eyes, lines on your palms, or the backs of your lower legs. They may indicate unhealthy cholesterol levels.
- Waxy bumps on the skin: These may look like a rash or warts. They’re actually fatty deposits caused by high levels of fats in the blood.
If you notice any of these signs, your skin may be telling you that your heart needs help. See your doctor for more information.
CV Skinlabs Products Target Inflammation
To keep a lid on inflammation we recommend using our CV Skinlabs products every day. They are all specifically designed to reduce inflammation.
Here at CV Skinlabs, our hydrating moisturizers are full of powerful anti-inflammatory, healing and nourishing ingredients to help keep inflammation at bay and the skin barrier strong and resilient. Our clinicals show glowing results in reducing inflammation and redness, and increasing moisturization.
Our proprietary Tri-Rescue Complex uses a powerful blend of turmeric, bisabolol, and reishi mushroom to calm inflammation, restores skin health, and boost moisture and radiance. Every CV Skinlabs product contains this complex along with other potent ingredients, promoting the prevention and treatment of inflammatory skin conditions.
As we’ve always said—taking care of your skin is a big part of taking care of your overall health!
Did you know that skin disease and heart disease may be related?