Research suggests eczema worsens heart health and contributes to heart disease as a side effect. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that triggers such inflammatory symptoms as itching, redness, scaling and crusting on areas around the body.
According to Medical News Today, specific causes of eczema
are unknown, but hereditary and environmental factors may be involved. Symptoms could result from chemical irritants, allergens, hot and cold temperatures, stress, hormones and certain foods, such as dairy products or wheat.
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Chronic inflammation from the disorder could increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, according to a study at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
People with eczema tend to practice unhealthy lifestyles, possibly because of complications from the disease. For example, the stress involved in treating eczema may lead to increased drinking or smoking habits. Eczema sufferers may exercise less, making them more likely to become overweight or obese, contributors to heart disease.
However, according to WebMD, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg
, lead researcher in the Northwestern University study, noted that there was an increased risk of heart disease and stroke even when subjects controlled their smoking habits and alcohol consumption along with improving their physical activity.
Researchers reviewed data on more than 61,000 people, ages 18 to 85, who were part of U.S. National Health Interview Surveys in 2010 and 2012. People with eczema were significantly more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels than those without the skin condition. They were also more likely to be severely obese. These factors contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.
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In addition, WebMD reports, the effects of the disorder can interfere with lifestyle activities. Eczema causes itching to become worse from the heat and sweat of exercising. Eczema patients also have sleeping and stressful difficulties because of the symptoms, conditions that may contribute to heart problems.
Eczema often begins in childhood, leading to bacterial and viral infections that cause stress, according to DermNet NZ,
a source written and reviewed by dermatologists and other health professionals in New Zealand. Sleep problems may begin in childhood. Shyness and withdrawal may continue into adulthood because of the embarrassment of the skin condition, causing further stress.
Redness of the skin, called erythrodermic eczema, occurs in severe cases and may require hospitalization to cool and hydrate the skin. Complications from erythroderma include risks of dehydration, infection, swelling and heart failure.
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