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What Skin Disease is Associated with Dying Younger, Cardiovascular Disease, Depression, and Diabetes?

By Abby A. Jacobson, MS, PA-C

The answer is: Psoriasis. Patients with psoriasis die 3.5 to 4.4 years younger, have a 58% risk of major adverse cardiac events, and a 62% increased risk of diabetes. Psoriasis patients have higher rates of depression and anxiety. Studies from the National Psoriasis Foundation find that over 70% of patients with psoriasis feel “angry, frustrated, and/or helpless” because of their disease. Psoriasis patients experience significant social stigma and have a higher unemployment rate. Yet a large portion of patients are not receiving guideline recommended treatments. Over 30% of psoriasis patients with moderate or severe disease are receiving no treatment at all for their disease.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory auto-immune mediated disease with no known cause or cure. It is estimated that 2% of the US population is impacted by psoriasis. At least 30% of psoriasis patients also suffer from psoriatic arthritis – painful swelling and inflammation of the joints. Primary care providers (PCPs) play a major role in identifying the disease, understanding what treatment options exist, and managing the array of co-morbidities that very few patients realize they are higher risk for because of their psoriasis.
The treatment arsenal for psoriasis has exploded with options over the last decade. We can now achieve levels of control that were once impossible without almost complete immune suppression. However, with these new treatments do come unique concerns and still some do impact the patient’s immune system. We now have more than topical treatment options: we have shots, biologics, and a new psoriasis pill that does not seem to negatively impact the patient’s immune system. Just the week the FDA approved another injected treatment option for psoriasis patients that work in a completely new way. Despite all these new and emerging therapies many dermatologists still relegate their psoriasis patients to topical treatments alone. Stop your psoriasis patients silent suffer and help get them the treatment they deserve.

What is the ideal treatment formula for every psoriasis patient that comes through your door?

The answer is: a team approach.

1) The PCP who gets them to a dermatology (or rheumatology) provider who does regularly use all of the new therapies available for psoriasis
2) A PCP who knows the co-morbidities risk and closely monitors and manages these potential risks with the patient