The Health Dangers of Having Psoriasis

It's estimated that more than 7.5 million people suffer from psoriasis, an uncomfortable and sometimes painful skin condition. Psoriasis is caused by a buildup of excess cells on skin's surface that form patches of red, itchy skin. The exact cause is unknown and currently there's no cure for this condition. In severe cases, this scaly skin can cover most of the body. Many of the available treatments carry side effects so hazardous that some sufferers must go untreated. Now research is showing that people with psoriasis are at higher risk for other more serious conditions.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis patients are at increased risk for developing comorbid diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. People with severe cases experience higher incidences of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and even certain kinds of cancer. People with psoriasis often face self-esteem issues and 25 percent of them suffer from depression.

A recent study conducted by The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine demonstrates that severe psoriasis indicates a bigger risk factor for stroke- or heart-related death than elevated blood pressure does. Researchers compared years of medical records for a group of severe psoriasis sufferers versus a group of people who didn't have psoriasis. They discovered that the severe psoriasis patients had a 57 percent greater chance of heart- or stroke-related death, even after they mathematically accounted for people who smoked, had diabetes, or experienced high blood pressure.

How to Eliminate Health Risks Associated With Psoriasis

These findings are frightening if you have psoriasis—especially a severe case—but there are things you can do to reduce the risk factors:

  1. Avoid smoking
  2. Reduce stress
  3. Maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol level
  4. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays
  5. Have routine doctor's visits to monitor your overall health, especially your cardiovascular system since you're at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease—even if your psoriasis is mild

If you have not been diagnosed with psoriasis but suspect you may have it, be sure to speak to a doctor very soon. It's estimated that 2 million people have the disease and don't know it. And if you do not have psoriasis, be aware that smoking and obesity put you at increased risk for developing this disease along with many other health problems.


National Psoriasis Foundation

University of Pennsylvania - Penn Medicine