By Dr. Peter Jenkin, MD
Psoriasis is a very common skin condition and the incidence of psoriasis is increasing. Currently it is estimated that almost 7-1/2 million people in the US have psoriasis and of those almost 2,000,000 have a moderate to severe form of the disease.
But we now know that psoriasis is much more than just a skin disease. Up to 30% of patients with psoriasis have associated psoriatic arthritis. In addition, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, stroke and depression are all far more common in psoriatic patients than in the normal population. As a result, psoriatic patients have a life span which is approximately 4.1 years less than a population without psoriasis.
Fortunately, in the last 10 years there has been a wellspring of new, safe and very effective medications for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Most of these newer drugs are intended to be taken for the long-term and the hope there is that with long-term reduction in systemic inflammation that we will lower the incidence of some of these associated problems particularly by decreasing the likelihood of stroke and heart attack. Early results from long-term studies in this are very encouraging.
A very large percentage of patients with psoriasis are doing little or nothing to help their disease. In light of the information above, I would encourage anyone with psoriasis to inquire about these new options for treatment.