It's not uncommon for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to develop comorbidities – diseases that occur in addition to psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Researchers continue to examine the possible link between cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Crohn's disease with psoriatic diseases.
There are several things you can do now to help reduce your risk for developing a comorbid condition, said Dr. April Armstrong, vice chair of clinical research at the University of California, Davis and a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board.
Patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis should visit their primary care provider regularly and receive screening for several cardiovascular risk factors, Armstrong said. Your doctor should check your blood pressure at each visit if you are over the age of 21. Patients over the age of 45 should have a fasting blood glucose measured every three years, and earlier and more frequently than that if you are at increased risk of developing diabetes. Patients over the age of 20 should have a fasting lipids blood test every five years.
Maximize your health
If you smoke, stop, Armstrong said. Smoking increases your risk for cardiovascular risk, one of the most common comorbidities with psoriasis. Get help, if you need it. Reduce your alcohol intake, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can help, too.
Treat your psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
Treating your psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis will improve your physical and emotional wellbeing, Armstrong said. The joint destruction for psoriatic arthritis can be irreversible, making early and aggressive treatment paramount. Scientists are trying to determine if treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis will reduce cardiovascular comorbidities, Armstrong said. Preliminary research shows promising results in people using biologics, but more, larger studies are needed.
Don't ignore mental health
Depression has been cited as the no. 1 comorbidity in psoriasis. Depression is common in those living with chronic diseases. Don't be afraid to ask for professional help, Armstrong said. Depression affects not only people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, but also their loved ones.
If you already have a comorbidity, seek care from specialists for your conditions, Armstrong said. Seeing the right doctor can make a difference, and help you establish a network of supporters with the same condition who can help you through difficult times.
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.