Severe Psoriasis Linked to Increased Risk of Death

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder characterized by red skin lesions often covered by a thick silvery scale. It affects as many as 7.5 million Americans. The severity of the disease varies markedly: some people don’t even notice that they are affected, others have widespread, debilitating disease.

We have known for years that psoriasis has a significant impact on people’s quality of life; new research indicates it might actually shorten their lives.

People with severe psoriasis had a 50 percent increased risk of death compared with people without the inflammatory skin disease …. Men with severe psoriasis died an average of 3.5 years earlier than men without the condition, while women with severe psoriasis died 4.4 years earlier than women without psoriasis.

The reason for this increased risk of death is not clear. It might be that the same chronic inflammation that underlies the skin lesions and the arthritis in psoriasis patients might also lead to increased inflammation in their cardiovascular system. If you have psoriasis, then resolve in the new year to take control of your health — eat a healthy diet, exercise, and see your internist regularly.

If you are a physician and have patients with psoriasis, then you should check their cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugars regularly; consider them a high risk for cardiovascular complications.