Emerging research reveals that people with psoriasis are at risk for developing other serious medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. According to a new study by the National Psoriasis Foundation, of 5,000 people with psoriasis, nearly two-thirds report having at least one other critical health problem.
Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the country, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Appearing on the skin most often as red scaly patches that itch and bleed, psoriasis is chronic, painful, disfiguring and disabling. There is no cure for psoriasis.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation patient survey:
- Nearly 70 percent of people with psoriasis are overweight or obese.
- 33 percent have high blood pressure.
- 28 percent have another chronic, inflammatory disease such as lupus, Crohn's disease or multiple sclerosis.
- 24 percent have high cholesterol.
- 11 percent have diabetes.
"This data reinforces what we've known all along. Psoriasis is a very serious condition that impacts the body well beyond the skin," said Mark Lebwohl, M.D., professor and chairman of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and chair of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board. "Like any patient with a chronic disease, people with psoriasis must see their doctor regularly and adopt a healthy lifestyle to lessen their risk of developing another serious disease."
Additionally, up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness around the joints. People with mild psoriasis are just as likely to develop psoriatic arthritis as those with moderate or severe forms of the disease.
The National Psoriasis Foundation urges people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to work with their dermatologists to find an appropriate treatment regimen to help manage their disease.
The organization also encourages patients to pay careful attention to their joints and to see a doctor if they experience tenderness or pain over tendons, swollen fingers or toes, changes to the nails such as pitting, or morning stiffness or tiredness, which could indicate the onset of psoriatic arthritis.
August is Psoriasis Awareness Month and the National Psoriasis Foundation is working to raise awareness about the physical, social and emotional impact of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.