PHILADELPHIA – Psoriasis – a common skin disease characterized by thickened patches of inflamed, scaly skin – is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions, especially when skin disease is severe, according to research by Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. An editorial consensus paper on the topic is published in the December 15th issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Recent studies suggest that patients with psoriasis have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, particularly if their disease is moderate to severe. In addition, hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and obesity are all more common in patients with psoriasis than in the general population.

“Psoriasis patients, particularly if their disease is severe, should be educated about their increased risk of blocked arteries and heart attacks, screened for major cardiovascular risk factors -- such as elevated blood pressure or cholesterol -- and have modifiable cardiovascular risk factors treated successfully” recommends Dr. Gelfand. “Psoriasis patients are encouraged to make lifestyle adjustments that will improve their overall cardiovascular health.”

Seven million American adults have been diagnosed with psoriasis and an estimated 600,000 to 3.6 million Americans are living with undiagnosed active psoriasis, according to a separate study by Dr. Gelfand and colleague Shanu Kohli Kurd, MHS, a predoctoral research fellow and candidate for a Masters Degree in Clinical Epidemiology. The study, recently appearing in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, also found that undiagnosed patients tended to be male, nonwhite, less educated and unmarried, compared to diagnosed patients.

“Given the serious medical conditions often associated with psoriasis, including metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease, it is very important for people with a persistent rash to seek medical attention, especially when the rash is quite extensive,” said Dr. Gelfand.
The consensus paper was supported by an educational grant from Amgen. Dr. Gelfand has received consulting fees from Amgen; Genentech; Pfizer, New York, New York; Celgene, Summit, New Jersey; and Centocor, Horsham, Pennsylvania. Dr. Gelfand is a grants investigator for Amgen, Centocor, and Pfizer.


PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $6.7 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2016 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2016, Penn Medicine provided $393 million to benefit our community.

Share This Page: