New study links this common skin condition with an increased risk in heart disease

Over 3 million new cases of dermatitis appear in the US per year. Although dermatitis is broadly defined by the sensitivity of the skin, the condition is actually further segmented by a group of diseases. By far the most popular of these is atopic dermatitis, alternatively and perhaps more popularly known as eczema, affecting about 30% of the population.  Genetics and environmental factors are the most conclusive predictors but no cause has ever been explicitly determined. The pathology is able to be determined physically, as inflamed skin grows craked and hardens.

Though a new report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology presents some internal risk increases for sufferers to consider.  The Danish researchers set out to examine the association between hospital-diagnosed atopic dermatitis and atrial fibrillation, writing in the report, “Atopic dermatitis is characterized by chronic inflammation, which is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Patients with hospital-diagnosed atopic dermatitis have a 20% increased long-term risk of atrial fibrillation, but the absolute risk remains low.”

An under-reported association

Arterial fibrillation is a heartbeat aberration defined by irregular quivering. Left unchecked the condition can lead to heart failure, strokes and blood clots. By examining population bases registries the researchers analyzed patients diagnosed with atopic dermatitis from 1977 to 2013 before matching each comparison cohort individually.

“We included 13,126 persons with atopic dermatitis and 124,211 comparators followed for a median of 19.3 years. The 35-year risk of atrial fibrillation was 0.81% and 0.67%, respectively. The positive predictive value of atopic dermatitis diagnoses was 99%. The hazard ratio was 1.2 (95% CI: 1.0–1.6) and remained increased after adjusting for various atrial fibrillation risk factors.”

It all has to do with the inflammation, even if the ultimate risk is fairly low.  Dr. Aurora Badia, a board-certified dermatologist, recently sat down with WINK news on the back of the study, confirming that eczema has in fact been linked with cardiac involvement in the past, though she intends to attenuate the association by mitigating the inflammatory effects of the condition. Dr. Badia has already launched her own research study, employing different shots and creams and surveying their effectiveness.