The risks of psoriasis are far more than ‘skin deep.’
People with severe cases of the skin disease psoriasis appeared to have almost double the risk of dying during a four-year study than people without the condition, research suggests.
But the increased death rate was only seen in those with psoriasis affecting more than 10 percent of their body surface area. For those with less-severe disease, the risk of dying early was actually less than it was for people who didn’t have the skin condition.
Dr. Robert Kirsner, chair of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that over the last decade or so, doctors have learned that people with psoriasis tend to be less healthy.
“They are overweight, have diabetes mellitus, smoke, drink and have high cholesterol,” he said.
“These factors — as well as the presence of psoriasis itself — increases their risk for vascular disease and other poor medical outcomes. As a result, they more often have heart attacks and strokes and more often die,” Kirsner said. He wasn’t involved in the current research, but did review the findings.
Kirsner and study author Dr. Megan Noe suggested that people with severe psoriasis talk with their doctor about treating their psoriasis and controlling risk factors that may contribute to a higher risk of early death, such as smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.
It’s also important to note that it’s not clear from this study alone whether severe psoriasis actually causes a higher death rate, or if there’s just an association between those factors.
The study included nearly 8,800 adults with psoriasis and almost 88,000 without the condition. The study participants were followed for about four years on average.
The study volunteers all lived in the United Kingdom. About half of the participants were women. Their average age was about 45. Those with psoriasis were more likely to smoke and to drink alcohol.
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