Fewer than one in five people with psoriasis in Ireland is aware of their increased risk of heart and bowel disease, according to a new study.
The study, carried out at University Hospital Waterford, examined patient awareness of co-morbidities associated with psoriasis.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition that causes red, dry, flaky or scaly skin and can appear anywhere on the body. It can profoundly impair quality of life. People with psoriasis are at risk of several other diseases, especially people with severe psoriasis.
What medical conditions is psoriasis associated with?
Psoriasis is associated with several other important medical conditions such as heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease. People with psoriasis die four years earlier than people without psoriasis, mostly due to the increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.
University Hospital Waterford Study
We performed a study in University Hospital Waterford assessing the knowledge of our patients with psoriasis regarding the causes, exacerbating factors, and associated conditions of psoriasis.
In total, 214 patients attending Dermatology clinics completed the surveys. Participants were between the ages of 17-85 with the mean age being 50.1 years old. 94% of those taking the survey were Irish and 59% had finished education at secondary level. 90% of patients had moderate to severe psoriasis and were on systemic or biologic treatments.
Knowledge of the causes and exacerbating factors of psoriasis was good. However, only 16% of patients knew about the increased risk of heart disease and only 12% knew about the increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
On the other hand, patients were well informed on the associations with arthritis and depression, with 87% of our patients correctly identifying these as risks.
It is vital that patients are aware of these risks, so that other modifiable risk factors can be optimally managed in conjunction with our colleagues in primary care.
The risk of heart disease can be reduced by increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, and optimising cholesterol levels. We also now have incredibly effective targeted medicines for psoriasis that also reduce the risk of heart disease and can treat associated diseases like bowel and joint problems.
We have launched an education campaign in the department and plan to reassess patient knowledge in 12 months.
First author of this study was Dr Cathal O’Connor, Dermatology Specialist Registrar and PhD Fellow with the Irish Clinical and Academic Training (ICAT) programme.
The study was a single-centre cross-sectional study conducted in the dermatology department at University Hospital Waterford between January 2019 and June 2020.
O’Connor C, Gallagher C, Dunphy M, Paul L, O’Connell M. Irish patients with psoriasis have poor awareness of their risk of ischemic heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease. International Journal of Dermatology 2020.