Target Health Blog

Severe Atopic Eczema and Long Term Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

May 29, 2018


According to an article published online in the British Medical Journal (23 May 2018), a population-based matched cohort study was performed to investigate whether adults with atopic eczema are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and whether the risk varies by atopic eczema severity and condition activity over time. For the study, data were obtained from 1) UK electronic health records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, Hospital Episode Statistics, and 2) data from the Office for National Statistics, 1998-2015.

Study participants included adults with a diagnosis of atopic eczema, matched (on age, gender, general practice, and calendar time), and patients without atopic eczema. The main outcome measures were cardiovascular outcomes as measured by myocardial infarction, unstable angina, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and cardiovascular death).

The study obtained data from a total of 387,439 patients with atopic eczema were matched to 1,528,477 patients without atopic eczema. The median age was 43 at cohort entry and 66% were female. Median follow-up was 5.1 years. Evidence of a 10% to 20% increased hazard for the non-fatal primary outcomes for patients with atopic eczema was found by using Cox regression stratified by matched set. Results showed a strong dose-response relation with severity of atopic eczema. Patients with severe atopic eczema had a 20% increase in the risk of stroke (hazard ratio 1.22, 99% confidence interval 1.01 to 1.48), 40% to 50% increase in the risk of myocardial infarction, unstable angina, atrial fibrillation, and cardiovascular death, and 70% increase in the risk of heart failure (hazard ratio 1.69, 99% confidence interval 1.38 to 2.06). Patients with the most active atopic eczema (active >50% of follow-up) were also at a greater risk of cardiovascular outcomes. Additional adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors as potential mediators partially attenuated the point estimates, though associations persisted for severe atopic eczema.

According to the authors, severe and predominantly active atopic eczema are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular outcomes and that targeting cardiovascular disease prevention strategies among these patients should be considered.

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