Blog | Monday, June 15, 2009

More than skin deep: Psoriasis has hidden dangers

As we note in this month's cover story about dermatology for the internist, psoriasis is common, affecting about 2% of the general population. It's been known that patients with the condition are more vulnerable to heart attack, and thus their lipid and BP levels should be monitored. But a new study in the Archives of Dermatology suggests even this level of vigilance may not be enough.

Researchers at the University of Miami analyzed the records of 3,236 patients with psoriasis and 2,500 individuals without it, and found that even after age, sex, smoking status and history of hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia were controlled for, patients with psoriasis still were significantly more likely to have atherosclerosis, as well as ischemic heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, or PAD. As such, psoriasis carries an independent risk of higher mortality--19.9% vs. 9.9%.

So what's an internist to do with his or her psoriatic patients? Vigilantly screen them for CV risk factors, and consider prescriptive aspirin, the authors said, until more research can be done.