People with psoriasis have a greater chance of developing other health problems or comorbidities. A comorbidity is a disease or condition that occurs because of or is related to a health condition that you have, such as psoriasis.
It is important to visit your primary care provider regularly to screen for these diseases because you may not notice or feel symptoms for some of these health conditions. The same inflammation that triggers your skin symptoms can affect your whole body. A healthy lifestyle, and medications when you need them, can lower the likelihood of symptoms.
In 2019, the National Psoriasis Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology published guidelines on the treatment of psoriasis with attention to comorbidities. The guidelines state the following health conditions as comorbidities of psoriasis.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) causes swelling, pain and stiffness in the joints and in areas where tendons and ligaments connect to bone. PsA is the most common comorbidity of psoriasis. An estimated 30 to 33 percent of people living with psoriasis also experience PsA.
Cardiovascular disease (also known as heart disease) refers to numerous conditions including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, arrythmia (irregular heart rhythm) and heart valve problems.
Metabolic syndrome refers to the presence of increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Obesity is a complex chronic disease involving genetic and environmental factors. Obesity is defined as too much body fat (especially around the waist) that presents a health risk. Obesity may increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Body Mass Index (BMI) uses a person’s height and weight to determine obesity. A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered to have obesity.
Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure, which refers to the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Hypertension is very common and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Dyslipidemia refers to the consistent high levels of cholesterol and other lipids (also called fats) in the blood. Dyslipidemia may increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
Type 2 diabetes (also called insulin resistance) refers to cells in the body that do not respond normally to insulin. Normally insulin works to let blood sugar into the cells in the body to use as energy. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, vision loss and kidney disease.
Anxiety and Depression
People with anxiety disorders often struggle with intense feelings of anxiety, worry, fear and/or panic. Anxiety can interfere with daily activities and may last a long time. People with depression experience a persistent sad mood that lasts a long time and interferes with daily activities.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to conditions characterized by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common inflammatory bowel diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Cancer describes diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and may spread into nearby tissue. There are more than 100 types of cancers and are often named after the area in the body where the cancer forms.
Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged or cannot filter blood as well as normal kidneys. As a result, extra fluid and waste from the blood stay in the body and may lead to other health problems.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This happens when the muscles in the throat relax, blocking the airway.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease refers to a group of diseases that cause breathing-related problems and airflow blockage.
Uveitis refers to inflammation in the eye which affects the middle layer of tissue in the eye wall (uvea). Symptoms include eye redness, pain and blurred vision and symptoms may come on suddenly and progress quickly.
Hepatic (liver) Disease
Hepatic disease refers to inflammation of the liver that disrupts the liver’s function and which can lead to permanent kidney damage.
The goal of treatment is to control your symptoms and prevent infections. In general, three treatment options are used for patients with psoriasis:
- Topical medications such as lotions, ointments, creams, and shampoos
- Body-wide (systemic) medications, which are pills or injections that affect the whole body, not just the skin
- Phototherapy, which uses light to treat psoriasis (this treatment is covered by most insurance)
Just because you have psoriasis, it doesn’t mean you’ll develop one of the above complications. The best thing you can do is stay on top of your psoriasis treatment. Call Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center today at 330-425-7600 or set up an appointment online by clicking here. You can discuss your psoriasis flare-ups with Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD and find out what treatments may be available.