How skin disease links to other health risks

| Melissa Leavitt

Psoriasis is not a one-size-fits-all disease.

It can take a variety of forms and show up just about any place on the body. Depending on your treatment, severity and a number of other factors, it may cover just a small area or spread across your skin.

When trying to understand how your psoriasis will affect your overall health, it’s important to take these differences into account. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can put you at risk for a number of related conditions called comorbidities, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

How much risk may depend on the severity of your skin disease.

According to research presented at June’s European League Against Rheumatism meeting in London, people with more severe skin disease, coupled with psoriatic arthritis, had higher rates of some comorbidities than psoriatic arthritis patients with mild skin disease.

The study compared about 15,000 people with psoriatic arthritis and mild skin disease with about 10,000 people with psoriatic arthritis and moderate-to-severe skin disease.

When looking at this patient population, researchers found that almost all psoriatic arthritis patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis were on medication for their psoriatic disease compared with about 80 percent of people with mild psoriasis.

More psoriasis, more comorbidities

Using a large medical database, researchers analyzed the rate of comorbidities among patients in the two different groups.

Almost 19 percent of people with more severe psoriasis had anxiety compared with almost 16 percent of people with mild psoriasis. Similarly, about 23 percent of people with severe psoriasis were diagnosed with depression, while 20 percent of people with mild disease had depression.

The difference was more pronounced for obesity. About 22 percent of people with more severe skin disease were obese compared with about 16 percent of people with mild skin disease, according to the results.

Differences in medication use

Researchers also found significantly more use of medication to treat comorbidities—such as antidepressants and drugs for cardiovascular disease—among people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis than among people with mild psoriasis.

How to lower your risk for comorbidities

No matter what your skin severity is, you can take steps to lower your risk for comorbidities.

Previous findings suggest that although the chances of developing comorbidities such as heart disease may be greater among people with more severe psoriasis, even a few plaques can put you at risk.

Effectively treating your psoriatic disease may reduce your risk for some comorbidities. Eating right, keeping fit and regular check-ups with your physician can also help improve your overall health.

Know your options

Always work with your doctor to find the best way to manage your psoriatic disease and related conditions. Contact our Patient Navigation Center to discuss comorbidities and treatment options.



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.

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