Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease with its most visible effects on the skin. However, psoriasis patients are at an elevated risk for many other conditions, particularly cardiovascular disease. In a recent news release, dermatologist Jashin J. Wu discusses the importance of the correct management of psoriasis, not only to improve skin symptoms but for the patient’s overall health.
According to a 2016 World Health Organization report, “Global Report on Psoriasis,” this condition affects at least 100 million individuals worldwide. The disease, recognized in 2014 by member states as a serious noncommunicable disease (NCD) in the World Health Assembly resolution, has an unpredictable course of symptoms and it is associated with numerous and serious comorbidities, such as arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and depression.
Many people suffer from psoriasis but have not been correctly diagnosed and, as a result, do not receive proper treatment. They suffer needlessly from depression and social stigmatization, besides the obvious physical effects of the disorder. Identification and management of harmful comorbidities, particularly heart disease, is also very important.
Wu highlights that patients, even those with mild disease, need to be aware of how psoriasis affects their overall health, as the inflammatory effects of the skin disease can have harmful effects everywhere else in the body. The proper treatment of psoriasis may help improve cardiovascular symptoms by reducing skin inflammation and, consequently, inflammation in other areas of the body.
Such treatments include phototherapy; systemic medications such as acitretin, cyclosporine and methotrexate; and biologics, a group of medicines that block the immune responses that exacerbate inflammation.
According to Wu, biologics have been shown, in several studies, to have the potential of improving cardiovascular symptoms, although the mechanisms for such improvement remain unclear. More research is needed in this area to evaluate the existence of a direct connection between biologic treatment and cardiovascular improvement. Moreover, research is needed in order to compare the efficacy of different groups of medicines regarding heart symptoms.
“Psoriasis is a serious medical condition that can have a detrimental effect on your overall health,” Wu said. “If you have this disease, talk to a board-certified dermatologist to determine the best treatment option for you. Managing your psoriasis is not just about improving your skin — it’s about caring for your entire well-being.”
Maintaining a healthy weight and seeking screening of cardiovascular disease are other pro-active measures for patients to maintain good health.