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Eczema Sufferers at Higher Risk of Heart Disease, Obesity

Adults suffering from eczema, a chronic itchy skin disease, have higher rates of smoking, drinking and obesity and are less likely to exercise than adults who don’t have the disease, a new study has found.

These negative behaviours put eczema patients at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as diabetes, said researchers from Northwestern University in the US. “This disease takes a huge emotional toll on its sufferers, like chronic pain,” said lead study author Dr Jonathan Silverberg.

“Because eczema often starts in early childhood, people are affected all through their developmental years and adolescence. It hurts their self-esteem and identity. That’s part of why we see all these negative behaviours,” he said. Adding to eczema patients’ health woes is difficulty exercising, because sweat and heat aggravate the itching.

“They will avoid anything that triggers the itch. Patients report their eczema flares during a workout,” Silverberg said. “This opens our eyes in the world of dermatology that we’re not just treating chronic inflammation of the skin but the behavioural, lifestyle side of things,” Silverberg said.

Dermatologists need to ask patients about their lifestyle habits such as smoking and physical activity so they can offer interventions, the study suggests.

The study analysed data for 27,157 and 34,525 adults aged 18 to 85 years from the 2010 and 2012 National Health Interview Survey in the US.

The study found patients with eczema had 54 per cent higher odds of being morbidly obese, 48 per cent higher odds of hypertension, up to 93 per cent higher odds of having pre-diabetes and up to 42 per cent higher odds of having diabetes. They also had 36 per cent higher odds of high cholesterol. The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. PTI

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