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Managing Cardiovascular Disease with Hidradenitis Suppurativa

It is common to have other conditions at the same time as hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Because HS is a condition thought to be caused by long-term inflammation inside the body, other conditions that are caused by inflammation may also be present.

Doctors use the term comorbidity to describe a condition or illness that occurs at the same time of another condition or illness. Morbidity should not be confused with the term mortality. Morbidity means disease or illness, and mortality means death.1

There are several comorbid conditions in HS. One significant comorbid condition that impacts many with HS is cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that those with HS are at a much greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Those with HS also have a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.2

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, 1 person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.3

Cardiovascular disease is the dysfunction of the vessels and the heart. Cardiovascular disease includes conditions such as:4

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Heart valve problems

Cardiovascular disease is common among those with HS. The inflammation inside the body that occurs with HS also causes damage to the body’s blood vessels. Long-term damage of vessels within the body leads to the body’s overreaction to try to repair itself. This attempt at repair causes further inflammation and increases the risk for heart and vessel disease.

HS has been associated with increased body weight. Being overweight carries an additional risk for cardiovascular disease, which increases the likelihood of it occurring along with HS.

Preventing cardiovascular disease when you have HS

Preventing cardiovascular disease can present a challenge in HS. Some medications used to treat HS may promote weight gain, which increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The important thing to remember about cardiovascular disease and HS is to prevent it as much as possible.

Lifestyle modifications is a good place to start. Things you can do to help manage or prevent cardiovascular include:5

  • Choosing healthy foods
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Check your cholesterol level
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Take all your medicines as directed by your doctor
  • Talk to your doctor and keep your appointments

Minimizing your risk of cardiovascular disease with HS

Lifestyle changes will help you to prevent cardiovascular disease. However, having HS is something you can not prevent. This means that you have uncontrollable risk factors for cardiovascular disease because you have HS.

You may need medication to treat or prevent cardiovascular disease. These may include medications to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar levels.

Keep talking to your doctor about HS and the risks that HS has on your overall health. Keep your appointments with your doctor and make sure to have your health testing done according to what your doctor suggests.

Not everyone with HS develops cardiovascular disease. Get and stay active, choose healthy foods, and live a healthy lifestyle. These are good choices for everyone and may help you prevent cardiovascular disease.

Written by: Katie Murphy | Last reviewed: December 2020
  1. Valderas JM, Starfield B, Sibbald B, Salisbury C, Roland M. Defining comorbidity: implications for understanding health and health services. Ann Fam Med. 2009;7(4):357-363. doi:10.1370/afm.983.
  2. Egeberg A, Gislason GH, Hansen PR. Risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality in Patients With Hidradenitis Suppurativa. JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(4):429-434. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.6264.
  3. Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm. Accessed 8/22/2020.
  4. What is Cardiovascular Disease? American Heart Association. Available at https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease. Accessed 8/18/2020.
  5. Prevent Heart Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm. Accessed 8/22/2020.