People with severe psoriasis are at an increased risk of developing serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, says a dermatologist from the University of Pennsylvania.
He has also found that patients with may have shorter life expectancies than those without the condition. Those with may die three to five years earlier than patients who do not have the disease.
Patient education is critical in the early detection and management of these related conditions, many of which can be controlled with proper medical care, said Dr. Joel M. Gelfand, MSCE, FAAD, assistant professor of dermatology at the School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
To minimize the risk of developing associated medical conditions, Dr. Gelfand recommended that psoriasis patients lead a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking, maintain an ideal body weight and get routine screenings for cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks.
Previous studies have also shown that excessive inflammation is a critical feature of psoriasis.
This discovery has led to innovative approaches to treating psoriasis, with therapies targeting selected areas of the immune system that are over-active in psoriasis patients.
Excess inflammation also is present in other common conditions, such as hardening of the arteries, heart attacks, stroke, obesity and diabetes which may explain why some psoriasis patients may be at an increased risk for developing these other serious conditions.
We need to educate psoriasis patients about the increased risk of so the prevention efforts can be instituted, said Gelfand.
He also said that further research is needed to better determine how skin disease severity and activity affect the risk of developing these associated conditions and whether successful treatment of psoriasis alters the risks.
The study was presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.