PHILADELPHIA – Psoriasis – a common skin disease characterized by thickened patches of inflamed, scaly skin – is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions, especially when skin disease is severe, according to research by Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. An editorial consensus paper on the topic is published in the December 15th issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.
Recent studies suggest that patients with psoriasis have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, particularly if their disease is moderate to severe. In addition, hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and obesity are all more common in patients with psoriasis than in the general population.
“Psoriasis patients, particularly if their disease is severe, should be educated about their increased risk of blocked arteries and heart attacks, screened for major cardiovascular risk factors -- such as elevated blood pressure or cholesterol -- and have modifiable cardiovascular risk factors treated successfully” recommends Dr. Gelfand. “Psoriasis patients are encouraged to make lifestyle adjustments that will improve their overall cardiovascular health.”
Seven million American adults have been diagnosed with psoriasis and an estimated 600,000 to 3.6 million Americans are living with undiagnosed active psoriasis, according to a separate study by Dr. Gelfand and colleague Shanu Kohli Kurd, MHS, a predoctoral research fellow and candidate for a Masters Degree in Clinical Epidemiology. The study, recently appearing in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, also found that undiagnosed patients tended to be male, nonwhite, less educated and unmarried, compared to diagnosed patients.
“Given the serious medical conditions often associated with psoriasis, including metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease, it is very important for people with a persistent rash to seek medical attention, especially when the rash is quite extensive,” said Dr. Gelfand.
The consensus paper was supported by an educational grant from Amgen. Dr. Gelfand has received consulting fees from Amgen; Genentech; Pfizer, New York, New York; Celgene, Summit, New Jersey; and Centocor, Horsham, Pennsylvania. Dr. Gelfand is a grants investigator for Amgen, Centocor, and Pfizer.
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