Heart Attacks and Psoriatic Disease

In the fall of my junior year of college, I got a phone call around dinner time; my mum had a heart attack. My dad reassured me that she was going to be alright, and I made arrangements to go home for awhile. While there was a certain factor of shock, somehow I knew this would eventually happen. I knew my mother had a higher risk of heart attack, just like millions of others who also live with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

People with psoriatic disease have higher rates of coronary disease, heart attack, and strokes. I don’t state these facts to scare anyone, I state them because I think it’s necessary. We rarely discuss this risk that is, unfortunately, very real. We use statistics that make it feel distant, not something that personally affects those with psoriatic disease and their loved ones. And we especially don’t hear many witnesses in educational pamphlets and web pages on the subject, like in the cases of a daughter who nearly lost her mother. I think it’s time to change that and educate ourselves not only about what issues could arise, but also how to identify them.

TLC for the heart

For individuals with psoriatic arthritis, we often think about needing to take care of one’s joints and skin. And while those are very important, we also need to be kind to our hearts! Some of the treatments for psoriatic arthritis already care for that. Eating right, exercising, and not smoking (kudos if you are in the process of quitting – you can do it!) are things that care for all of these things. Overall, helping our level of inflammation stay down is good for the heart.

It’s also very important to talk to your doctor about your personal risk. Some people may be very low risk while others are high risk; however you won’t know until you talk to a medical professional who is familiar with your personal health history. Staying informed about your personal health and risks is one of the best ways to stay healthy, but the only one who can truly advise you on this subject is your doctor.

Signs that are easily ignored

As important as caring for yourself and knowing your personal risk of heart disease, it’s just as important to be aware of all symptoms. Despite what the TV shows us, many people who have heart attacks have symptoms other than intense chest pain. In fact, some people don’t have chest pain at all.

The day before my mum’s heart attack, we were talking on the phone. Rather than our usual hour long conversation, we only spoke for a few minutes because she was feeling under the weather and very tired. She had felt that way the day before too, but that day was even worse. She just wanted to lie in bed and rest. Before getting off the phone, I told her to be careful because women have heart attacks that mimic the cold and flu. The next day when I saw an incoming call from my dad, I realized what had happened.

Some people, especially women, don’t often feel the classic symptoms of heart attack like chest pain. They often feel nausea, tired, and other flu-like symptoms. Sometimes they may have pain in the back or jaw. These symptoms can lead them to believe they’re simply under the weather; however, they tend to be very severe and different from a normal cold or arthritis flare. And it’s critical to note that I did not list every possible symptom; I do this purposefully, in the hopes that you might call your doctor and open a discussion about your own risk of heart disease.

So take this knowledge to heart! When you know your personal risks, you may have the power to make change. As always, talk to your doctor to come up with a plan that works for you- only they can tell you your personal risk and the best way to treat your psoriatic arthritis.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (13)
  • geeatbs66
    2 months ago

    As a victim of psoriatic arthritis , I knew I was at a higher risk for heart attack than most. I did not know how much more at risk. After a recent heart attack… I started researching all sorts of things I previously did not want to know. People with psoriatic arthritis are 68% more likely to have a heart attack than other people. Think of those numbers. Now add in family history, other comorbidities that go with psoriatic arthritis and the meds that go with all of them (sometimes those meds do not mix well and increase the odds) They can warn you all they want but nobody thiks it will happen to them. Everybody with psoriatic arthitis should be told that they are, more likely than not,going to have a heart attack or stroke. There is not enough emphasis on this aspect of the disease. Do the homework. Research your meds. Don’t just take it for granted that the proffessionals have not overlooked something. And most importantly take care of yourself. Eat right, Exercise, (even though it hurts) Do your homework and ask as many questions as you need. Thank you for your post Elizabeth. More people need to know.

  • imschmarte
    11 months ago

    Had to share an update. Partially due to this post, my husband and I did quit smoking!! After trying a few times, it did work, and we are at the 2 month mark, and I think maybe, we got it this time! Thanks for your post Elizabeth!! You might have truly saved a life with it!!

  • Elizabeth Medeiros author
    11 months ago

    I’m so glad to hear that!! Keep up the awesome job!!

  • imschmarte
    11 months ago

    Thank you!!

  • Rebecca moderator
    11 months ago

    Woot! That is AWESOME @imschmarte!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations and keep up the amazing work!

  • imschmarte
    11 months ago

    Thanks!!

  • VickiN moderator
    2 years ago

    Love all of the conversation this is generating, Elizabeth! While it can be super difficult to realize we may be at increased risk for other comorbidities because of PsA, it’s always better to have the heads up so we can take action. Thank you for sharing this important story with us! Wishing you all happy hearts,
    -Victoria, Community Moderator

  • kskelly53
    2 years ago

    I’ve had psoriasis for about 10 years now. I’ve also had 2 heart attacks. None of my doctor’s has ever mentioned a connection between my heart attacks and psoriatic disease. Luckily I’ve survived and after reading this article will be more vigilant with my health. I’ve been very proactive with my health after my heart attacks but don’t know what I could do different about my psoriatic disease. Have tried many cream, lotions and pills but to no avail. I’m very cautious about biologics, not sure if that is the way I want to go.

  • Casey moderator
    2 years ago

    Oh my goodness, kskelly53! I’m so sorry to hear about your two heart attacks on top of your psoriasis. I hope you’ve been able to recover as much as possible from your cardiac events!! Have you had to make any changes since these heart attacks have happened? Have your doctors been able to help you create a plan to prevent any more instances like this in the future? I’m glad to hear your being proactive about any other risk factors, but you’re so right, your PsA is not a factor that is controllable. It may be a good idea to bring this information and potential connection to your provider so that they can better assess what’s going on? Just a thought! Also, if you have any specific questions on a particular biologic, or biologics in general, feel free to share it with our community! I know there are many members who have experience with this type of treatment who can also provide great feedback. Our Q&A feature might be a good place to share any questions you have! Also, I found an article that has some basic information on biologics that you may find helpful during this time, https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/medications/biologics/ Please continue to keep us posted! We’re here for you, and sending gentle hugs your way! -Casey, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • imschmarte
    2 years ago

    Wow! Thanks for posting this Elizabeth, I have had PsA for over 20 years, and have never heard this before, nor did my doctor, whom is fantastic and I love him to death, ever tell me about this. I am a 61 year old woman, who is overweight and smokes. I guess I need to take a look at myself, and quit smoking and try losing a little bit of weight. Again, thank you!!

  • pegg2630
    2 years ago

    Great article. I’ve had psoriasis for 16 years and 2 years ago had a heart attack. My doctors never suggested that I could be at risk. My symptoms were not typical of a heart attack. Just a gut feeling that something was wrong. Lucky to be alive.

  • Casey moderator
    2 years ago

    Wow, pegg2630! What a story! I’m so glad to hear you made it through that experience, and also that you connected with this piece! You are truly amazing for listening to your body and your gut and realizing something was wrong. Incredible!! -Casey, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • Casey moderator
    2 years ago

    I really appreciated this, Elizabeth. It was very informative, yet vulnerable and personal. Great piece! -Casey

  • Poll