Conference Coverage

Psoriasis Patients Still Going Unscreened for Heart Disease



BOSTON – Despite the growing body of literature linking psoriasis to poor cardiovascular outcomes, most psoriasis patients are not being regularly screened for the major CV risk factors, according to the results of a new analysis.

"Screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity are not performed at most outpatient visits for psoriasis," wrote clinical research fellow Amir Al-Dabagh and colleagues at the center for dermatology research at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.

To determine whether and to what degree CV screening is taking place during outpatient psoriasis visits in the ambulatory care setting, the investigators reviewed data from the NAMCS (National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey) from 2005 to 2009. They calculated the probability of a patient’s being screened for at least one of four CV risk factors (blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and body mass index). They also compared screening rates by physician specialty, patient demographics, and clinical practice characteristics.

Approximately 11.4 million psoriasis patient visits were recorded during the study period. Age was found to be the only demographic factor that was significantly associated with all CV risk screens, Mr. Al-Dabagh reported in a poster presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting. "Psoriasis had a statistically significant negative association on overall screening rates for blood pressure and BMI screening, but not for glucose or cholesterol."

A comparison of screening rates among patients with and without psoriasis showed that only 41.2% of the psoriasis patients were screened for at least one of the four risk factors, compared with 66.3% of patients without psoriasis. When looking at psoriasis patients only, the researchers found that screening for each of the risk factors occurred more frequently during nondermatology vs. dermatology visits, regardless of disease severity.

Specifically, among patients with severe and nonsevere psoriasis, respectively, 100% and 89.9% of psoriasis visits to nondermatology offices included screening for at least one risk factor, compared with 28.9% and 12.3% of psoriasis visits to dermatology offices, according to the analysis. In both settings, screening rates were higher among male patients, as well as among black and non-Hispanic patients, Mr. Al-Dabagh noted.

The majority of nondermatologist visits for patients with severe and nonsevere psoriasis included screening for blood pressure (100% for severe; 87.9% for not severe) and BMI (88.3% for severe; 54.4% for not severe). By comparison, during dermatology visits, 3.8% of patients with severe disease and 2.4% of those with mild to moderate disease had blood pressure screens, and 14.8% and 8.5%, respectively, had BMI recorded. Relatively few visits in either setting included glucose or cholesterol measurement, regardless of disease severity.

In 2008, the National Psoriasis Foundation issued a clinical consensus report recommending that screening psoriasis patients for cardiovascular risk factors begin as early as 20 years of age. The recommendation was based on mounting evidence from population-based studies that found psoriasis to be a risk factor for developing atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction (J. Amer. Acad. Derm. 2008;58:1031-42).

In addition to early, routine screening, psoriasis patients should be counseled to modify cholesterol levels when necessary, to take measures to control depression, to quit smoking, to moderate their alcohol intake, to eat a healthy diet, and to exercise at least three times a week, according to the consensus report.

The center for dermatology research at Wake Forest University is supported by an educational grant from Galderma. The study investigators reported financial relationships with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Galderma.

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