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Cardiovascular Disease and Seborrheic Dermatitis

For the last examination, let’s have a brief look at cardiovascular disease and its relationship to seborrheic dermatitis; a relationship not often mentioned in the medical literature, but one that may carry significant relevance to the condition.

Defining Cardiovascular Disease

To start our discussion, we should first define what cardiovascular disease is. Unlike Parkinson’s disease which is a very specific and well-defined health condition, cardiovascular disease is a more general and overlapping term that encompasses various individual health issues that involve the heart or blood vessels. And since blood flow is under the control of the autonomic nervous system, the majority of cardiovascular disease are at-least in part conditions that involve abnormal autonomic function [1, 2].

Cardiovascular Disease and the Skin

When it comes to psoriasis, the link to cardiovascular disease is commonly mentioned and the majority of the literature highlights the increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease among individuals affected by psoriasis [3]. And often accompanying discussion of this relationship is the suggestion for individuals affected by psoriasis to improve cardiovascular health in an effort to minimize the long-lasting health implications.

When it comes to seborrheic dermatitis, the majority of review papers make no mention of any specific relationship to cardiovascular disease.

Nonetheless, a few do make mention of a case review paper from 1964 published in the British Journal of Dermatology [4]. This paper highlighted the possibility that such a relationship exists by documenting 16 cases in which seborrheic dermatitis appeared directly following an acute cardiovascular event/disease (such as a heart attack or stroke).

The authors of this paper emphasized that further research should be aimed in this direction and speculated the following mechanisms are likely to be responsible for the skin symptoms that developed:

  • Stress/emotional impact of the event could have served as the trigger due to their tendency to increase sebum production via the hormonal mechanisms
  • Direct impact of the cardiovascular event on nervous system function and its ability to effectively regulate sebum and sweat production

And if we take into account the fact that circulating hormones are under the control of the autonomic arm of the nervous system, the two points above merge together into a single common mechanism.

These findings, taken together with data suggesting that sympathetic overdrive could itself be a leading component in the development of cardiovascular disease [5, 6] the connection becomes even more plausible.

Section Summary

This section reviewed the potential link between cardiovascular disease and the increased risk of being affected by seborrheic dermatitis.

Key points include:

  1. Cardiovascular disease is a general term used to describe that various health issues that relate to the heart and blood vessels
  2. Psoriasis research often highlights the associated risk of developing cardiovascular disease and the importance of taking early preventative measures
  3. The connection between seborrheic dermatitis and cardiovascular disease is less clear, but there are reports of symptom appearance directly following a major cardiovascular event (such as heart attack or stroke)
  4. Sympathetic overdrive could potentially explain this phenomenon and additional research into the exact mechanism involved is warranted


  1. Kelly F Harris, Karen A Matthews "Interactions between autonomic nervous system activity and endothelial function: a model for the development of cardiovascular disease." Psychosomatic medicine 66.2 (2004): 153-64. PubMed
  2. Robert M Carney, Kenneth E Freedland, Richard C Veith "Depression, the autonomic nervous system, and coronary heart disease." Psychosomatic medicine 67 Suppl 1 (2006): S29-33. PubMed
  3. Iben Marie Miller, Christina Ellervik, Shiva Yazdanyar, Gregor B E Jemec "Meta-analysis of psoriasis, cardiovascular disease, and associated risk factors." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 69.6 (2014): 1014-24. PubMed
  4. Yu Mi, Christof C Smith, Feifei Yang, Yanfei Qi, Kyle C Roche, Jonathan S Serody, Benjamin G Vincent, Andrew Z Wang "A Dual Immunotherapy Nanoparticle Improves T-Cell Activation and Cancer Immunotherapy." Advanced materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) 30.25 (2018): e1706098. PubMed
  5. Guido Grassi "Sympathetic overdrive and cardiovascular risk in the metabolic syndrome." Hypertension research : official journal of the Japanese Society of Hypertension 29.11 (2007): 839-47. PubMed
  6. Guido Grassi, Allyn Mark, Murray Esler "The sympathetic nervous system alterations in human hypertension." Circulation research 116.6 (2015): 976-90. PubMed
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About Michael Anders

After being affected by seborrheic dermatitis, I have made it my goal to gather and organize all the information that has helped me in my journey.

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