Psoriasis is the most common chronic inflammatory condition involving the T helper cell system. Population studies have demonstrated that patients with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis have an increased risk of developing vascular risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, and increased risk of adverse vascular events, including myocardial infarction and stroke. Population studies have generally investigated the individual contributions of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to development of vascular risk factors; fewer studies have investigated the additive contribution of comorbid inflammatory disorders. We present a case of a woman with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and comorbid vascular risk factors.
A 49 year-old Caucasian woman with a history of severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis since adolescence presented with bilateral lower extremity weakness. She was found to have acute bilateral watershed infarcts and multifocal subacute infarcts. Her evaluation revealed vascular risk factors and elevated non-specific systemic inflammatory markers; serum and cerebral spinal fluid did not reveal underlying infection, hypercoagulable state, or vasculitis. Over the course of days, she exhibited precipitous clinical deterioration related to multiple large vessel occlusions, including the bilateral anterior cerebral arteries and the left middle cerebral artery. Autopsy revealed acute thrombi and diffuse, severe atherosclerosis.
Patients with early onset inflammatory disease activity or comorbid inflammatory disorders may have an even higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome and adverse vascular events compared to patients with late-onset disease activity or with a single inflammatory condition. The described case illustrates the complex relationship between inflammatory disorders and vascular risk factors. The degree of systemic inflammation, as measured by severity of disease activity, has been shown to have a dose-response relationship with comorbid vascular risk factors and vascular events. Dysregulation of the Th1 and Th17 system has been implicated in the development of atherosclerosis and may explain the severe atherosclerosis seen in such chronic inflammatory conditions. Further research will help refine screening and management guidelines to account for comorbid inflammatory disorders and related disease severity.