Poor awareness of co-morbidities in Irish Psoriasis Patients

Fewer than one in five people with psoriasis are 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.

Psoriasis is a skin 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.

Author of the study was Dr Cathal O’Connor, Dermatology Specialist Registrar and PhD Fellow with the Irish Clinical and Academic Training (ICAT) programme. He told Hospital Professional News, “Psoriasis is associated with several other important medical conditions such as heart Poor awareness of co-morbidities in Irish Psoriasis Patients disease and inflammatory bowel disease. People with psoriasis die four years earlier than people without psoriasis, mostly due to the increased risk of major cardiovascular events.

“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 between the age of 17-85 completed the survey 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,” Dr O’Connor continues.

“On the other hand, patients were well informed on the association with arthritis and depression, with 87% of our patients correctly identifying these as risks.”

Emphasising the importance of knowledge regarding risks, he adds, “It is vital that patients are aware, so that other modifiable risk factors can be optimally managed in conjunction with our colleagues in primary care. We have launched an education campaign in the department and plan to reassess patient knowledge in 12 months.”

The study was a single-centre cross-sectional study conducted in the dermatology department at University Hospital Waterford between January 2019 and June 2020.

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