PSORIASIS and COMORBIDITIES – CEREBRAL VASCULAR AND PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE

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Continuing our series on Psoriasis and Comorbidities

CHART 1: Comorbidities Associated with Psoriasis 1,2,3

Metabolic Syndrome –

Cerebral Vascular Disease – stroke

Peripheral Artery Disease – PAD

Cerebral Vascular Disease – stroke

A study found that cerebral (brain) vascular disease and peripheral arterial disease was also significantly more likely to be diagnosed in patients with psoriasis than in controls. 1 Cerebral vascular diseases are conditions that are caused by problems that affect the blood supply to the brain. Including:-

  • stroke– a serious medical condition where one part of the brain is damaged by a lack of blood supply or bleeding into the brain from a burst blood vessel 
  • transient ischemic attack (TIA) – a temporary fall in the blood supply to one part of the brain, resulting in brief symptoms similar to stroke 
  • subarachnoid haemorrhage – a type of stroke where blood leaks out of the brain’s blood vessels on to the surface of the brain
  • vascular dementia – persistent impairment in mental ability resulting from stroke or other problems with blood circulation to the brain 2

The results of a study looking at the association between psoriasis and stroke found that patients with severe psoriasis have a 44% increased risk of stroke, a potentially devastating co-morbidity. The risk of stroke in patients with psoriasis could not be explained by both common and rare major risk factors for stroke as identified in routine medical practice, suggesting that psoriasis may be an independent risk factor for stroke. Patients that are classified as having mild psoriasis had a statistically significant increased risk of stroke, however, this association was very modest and of limited clinical significance for the individual patient. The data showed that a patient with mild psoriasis has an excess risk of stroke attributable to psoriasis of 1 in 4115 per year, whereas a patient with severe psoriasis has an excess risk of stroke attributable to psoriasis of 1 in 530 per year. 3

Peripheral Artery Disease – PAD

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head which can cause symptomatic claudication (blockage) and may lead to amputation. 1

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In patients with psoriasis the diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease was found to be greater than in patients without psoriasis but with dyslipidemia (those with abnormal amount of lipids in the blood) or in smokers.4

Several studies have shown that presence and severity Cerebral vascular diseases (CVD) are related to presence and severity of Carotid Artery Disease (CAD) and PAD. In one study, significant CAD was observed in 25.4% of patients presenting with ischemic stroke. Among this stroke group, patients had a elevenfold likelihood of CAD compared to an age-matched general population. In other studies, PAD has been reported in 20 to 36% of patients with CVD.5

The prevalence of CAD in PAD patients is particularly high. In a systematic review of PAD studies, between 1966?2005, reported that CAD coexisted in 62% of patients when detected using stress tests, and in 90% of patients if the disease was detected by coronary angiography. Another review of the existing literature confirmed these findings, showing that 50% of those presenting with PAD have symptoms of CAD or electrocardiographic abnormalities, 90% have abnormalities on coronary angiography, and 40% have duplex evidence of carotid artery disease.5

A person’s risk also increases if they are over the age of 50  and who 6 : –

  • Smoke or used to smoke – If you smoke or have a history of smoking have up to four times greater risk of P.A.D.
  • Have diabetes – One in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to develop P.A.D. This will be further increased for psoriasis patients with diabetes.
  • Have high blood pressure – Also called hypertension, high blood pressure raises the risk of developing plaque in the arteries.
  • Have high blood cholesterol – Excess cholesterol and fat in your blood contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries, reducing or blocking blood flow to your heart, brain, or limbs.
  • Have a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, you increase your risk of also developing PAD by 1 in 3.

The signs and symptoms of the disease include 6 :

  • Claudication (obstruction of the arteries) – causing fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, cramping in the leg muscles (buttocks, thigh, or calf) that occurs during activity e.g. walking or climbing stairs. This pain or discomfort goes away once the activity is stopped and after resting.
  • Experiencing pain in the legs and/or feet that disturbs your sleep.
  • Sores or wounds on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all.
  • Colour changes in the skin of the feet, including paleness or purply blueness. The purply blue colouration of psoriasis plaques is especially seen in psoriasis patients who also have diabetes.
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg.
  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs.

To improve your general health, mobility, and in order to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and/or amputation it is critical that you reduce any symptoms that you may have of PAD :-

  • Quit smoking – Consult with your health care provider to develop an effective cessation plan and ensure you stick to it. This is especially important for psoriasis patients as smoking can be an aggravating trigger for those with chemical sensitivities.
  • It is important to lower your high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. Consult with your health care provider.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Be sure to increase your vegetable intake especially green vegetables, and those fruits as identified in your consultation with our Psoriasis Eczema Clinic Practitioners.
  • Adopt a more physical lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity e.g. walking at least 3-4 times per week.
  • Reduce your weight – If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care provider to develop a supervised weight loss plan.

 

REFERENCES

  • Prodanovich S, Kirsner RS, Kravetz JD, Ma F, Martinez L, Federman DG. Association of Psoriasis with Coronary Artery, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Diseases and Mortality. Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(6):700-703. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.94
  • http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cerebrovascular-disease/Pages/Definition.aspx
  • Gelfand JM, Dommasch E, Shin DB, et al. The Risk of Stroke in Patients with Psoriasis. The Journal of investigative dermatology. 2009;129(10):2411-2418. doi:10.1038/jid.2009.112.
  • Prodanovich S. et al.; Association of Psoriasis with Coronary Artery, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Diseases and Mortality; Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(6):700-703. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.94
  • Shar A.M. et al.; Coronary, Peripheral and Cerebrovascular Disease: a Complex Relationship; Herz 33 · 2008 · Nr. 7 © Urban & Vogel
  • NHLBI Diseases and Conditions Index: Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/ Diseases/pad/pad_what.html

PSORIASIS and COMORBIDITIES – CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

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WHAT IS COMORBIDITY?

Comorbidity is a concurrence of multiple diseases or disorders in association with a given disease, in this case, psoriasis.

 INCREASED RISK

 The patient with psoriasis has an increased risk of developing one or more of a number of other diseases/conditions that share many immunological features with psoriasis.

 CHART 1: Comorbidities Associated with Psoriasis 1,2,3

Metabolic Syndrome – Cardiovascular Disease

  • Arterial hypertension/ Atherosclerosis
  • Myocardial infarction (MI)
  • Dyslipidemia (Raised cholesterol)

The immunological abnormalities that lead to the development of psoriasis suggest that these patients may be at increased risk for other diseases associated with an inflammatory state. Research is yet to establish whether other diseases occur as a direct result of the systemic inflammation associated with psoriasis, as a consequence of genetically determined selection, or whether it is possible that the link between psoriasis and Cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction (MI)  may be mediated by other factors beyond inflammation, such as psychological stress, sedentary lifestyle, or possibly poor compliance with management of cardiovascular risk factors.. 4.5

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the immune response, including activated T cells, antigen presenting cells, cytokines, and markers of systemic inflammation such as C-reactive protein, are important to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and ultimately, MI. 2 Research has shown that patients with psoriasis have a higher incidence of MI compared with control patients, with patients who have severe psoriasis as having the highest rate. The risk of MI associated with psoriasis is greatest in younger patients (under the age of 40) with severe psoriasis. This reduces with age but still remains an increased risk even after treatment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors that are associated with aging. 5

Psoriasis is also associated with hypertension (increased blood pressure). In one study researchers examined the association among hypertension, antihypertensive medication use, and risk of incident psoriasis using prospective data from a large cohort of US women. A total of 121,701 participants, of which 2477 participants were diagnosed with psoriasis, were followed for 11 years with 2 yearly questionnaires. Researchers found that a prior history of hypertension was associated with an increased risk of psoriasis among women with hypertension for 6 years or more. Specifically, hypertensive women without medication use and with current medication use were more likely to develop psoriasis compared with women who did not have hypertension. Among the individual antihypertensive drugs, only ?-blockers were associated with an increased risk of psoriasis after regular use for 6 years or more. 6

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In a United Kingdom study using a large (7.5 million patients from 415 practices) electronic medical records database (The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a random sample of patients with psoriasis between the ages of 25 and 64 years were identified. The identification parameters were a diagnosis of hypertension; confirmed psoriasis diagnosis and classified psoriasis severity. The severity classification was identified according to the National Psoriasis Foundation classification system 1) mild (limited disease with ?2% BSA affected), moderate (scattered disease with 3%-10% BSA affected), or 2) severe (extensive disease with >10% BSA affected). Blood pressure was compared to the UK National Institute of Health and Care Excellence clinical guidelines, with uncontrolled hypertension being defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher. 

All patients with psoriasis who met the inclusion criteria were included in the study, yielding 680, 469, and 173 patients with mild, moderate, and severe psoriasis, respectively. The researchers found a significant positive relationship between psoriasis severity and uncontrolled hypertension independent of potential risk factors for poor blood pressure control. The likelihood of uncontrolled hypertension in patients with vs without psoriasis was greatest among those with moderate and severe skin disease, representing nearly half of the psoriasis patients seen by GPs in the United Kingdom. The findings have important clinical implications, highlighting a need for more effective management of blood pressure in patients with psoriasis, especially those with more extensive skin involvement (i.e. ?3% BSA affected).7 

The precise mechanisms that underlie psoriasis and hypertension are unknown. One theory proposed is that adipose (fat) tissue in psoriasis patients serves as a major source of angiotensinogen, which is subsequently converted to angiotensin II. Angiotensin II not only promotes salt retention by kidneys; it also stimulates T-cell proliferation. Angiotensin II also appears to promote inflammation and the development of atherosclerosis. Other theories suggest that increased visceral adipose tissue in psoriasis patients may contribute to hypertension development. Increased visceral adipose tissue may be associated with accumulation of perivascular fat, which can serve as a reservoir for activated effector T cells that promote dysfunction in both hypertension and psoriasis. Or that endothelin-1 may play an important role in the development of hypertension among psoriasis patients. Endothelin-1 is a protein that constricts blood vessels and increase blood pressure, and it is produced by several different cell types including keratinocytes. While the level of endothelin-1 is usually regulated through various mechanisms, their expression appears to be altered in psoriasis patients. 8 The connection between obesity and psoriasis, when taken in light of the above theories, is further strengthened. It is always advisable for those with moderate to severe psoriasis who are overweight to try to lose weight through sensible eating – reducing fast and fatty foods and increasing the intake of vegetables, especially green vegetables.

The development of atherosclerosis and its increased prevalence may be partially explained by the presence of atherosclerotic risk factors, e.g., diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and hyperlipidemia (increased levels of lipids in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides) as well as by the chronic inflammatory processes that are commonly observed in psoriasis. 9 

Researchers have found that psoriasis patients have impaired endothelial function and greater thickness of the innermost two layers of the wall of the carotid artery which leads to increased arterial stiffness. 9

Atherosclerosis, the underlying process resulting in cardiovascular events, is caused by the build up of atheromatous plaques in the inner layer of the arteries. Atheromatous plaques are an accumulation of degenerative material in the inner layer of an artery wall. The material consists of mostly macrophage cells, or debris, containing lipids, calcium and a variable amount of fibrous connective tissue. The interaction between metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes, high cholesterol etc. and the systemic proinflammatory mechanisms operating involved in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis may explain the accelerated atherosclerotic process in these patients. Patients with psoriatic disease display abnormalities in the innate and adaptive immune system that result in high serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines that may upregulate cell-mediated immunity, promote inflammatory cell migration through the vascular endothelium (tissue that lines the interior surface of blood vessels), resulting in endothelial dysfunction and thus causing plaque formation and build up. 10

Recent studies clearly demonstrated that inflammation impairs reverse cholesterol transfer (High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol efflux) in vivo, providing evidence that inflammation impairs HDL function. HDL is a complex lipoprotein particle with a broad variety of functions, exerting atheroprotective activity via effects on the endothelium and by potent anti-inflammatory capabilities. Functional impairment of HDL may contribute to the increased cardiovascular mortality experienced by psoriatic patients. HDL from psoriasis patients and healthy controls was assessed for changed HDL composition. Researchers found that there was a significant reduction in apoA-I levels of HDL from psoriatic patients, whereas levels of apoA-II and proteins involved in acute-phase response, immune response, and endopeptidase /protease inhibition were increased. Psoriatic HDL also contained reduced phospholipid and cholesterol. The researchers found that the compositional alterations impaired the ability of psoriatic HDL to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophages. Importantly, HDL cholesterol efflux capability was more impaired as the psoriasis area and severity increased. 11

Efflux is a mechanism responsible for moving compounds, like cholesterol out of the cells.  The efflux process is extremely important because cholesterol overloading, such as occurs in the cells of the arterial walls, leads to the development of atherosclerotic plaque.12

Chronic systemic inflammation associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis induces endothelial dysfunction, altered glucose metabolism, and insulin resistance that plays a significant role in the development of obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), and cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.

Those with moderate to severe psoriasis should ensure that they visit their General Practitioner to have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked and to have an ECG regularly to ensure the health of their heart.

 

REFERENCES

  • Arzu K?l?ç, Seray Cakmak; PSORIASIS AND COMORBIDITIES; EMJ Dermatol. 2013;1:78-85.
  • Howa Yeung et al.;Psoriasis Severity and the Prevalence of Major Medical Comorbidity – A Population-Based Study; JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(10):1173-1179. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5015
  • Aurangabadkar SJ. Comorbidities in psoriasis. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2013;79, Suppl S1:10-7
  • Elgendy A, Alshawadfy E, Altaweel A, Elsaidi A (2016) Cardiovascular and Metabolic Comorbidities of Psoriasis. Dermatol Case Rep 1: 106.
  • Gelfand JM, Neimann AL, Shin DB, Wang X, Margolis DJ, et al. (2006) Risk of myocardial infarction in patients with psoriasis. JAMA 296: 1735-1741.
  • Wu S, Han J, Li W, Qureshi AA. Hypertension, Antihypertensive Medication Use, and Risk of Psoriasis.JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(9):957-963. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.9957
  • Takeshita J, Wang S, Shin DB, et al. Effect of Psoriasis Severity on Hypertension Control: A Population-Based Study in the United Kingdom.JAMA dermatology. 2015;151(2):161-169. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.2094.
  • Wang Armstrong A. et al; Psoriasis and Hypertension Severity: Results from a Case-Control Study; PLoS ONE 6(3):e18227 · March 2011
  • Kalkan G , Karada? A.s.:The Association Between Psoriasis and Cardiovascular Diseases: Eur J Gen Med 2013; 10 (Suppl 1):10-16
  • Eder L. and Gladman D.D.; Atherosclerosis in psoriatic disease: latest evidence and clinical implications; Ther Adv Musculoskel Dis 2015, Vol. 7(5) 187–195 DOI: 10.1177/ 1759720X15591801
  • Holzer M. et al.; Psoriasis alters HDL composition and cholesterol efflux capacity; Journal of Lipid Research Volume 53, 2012
  • Phillips M.C.; Molecular Mechanisms of Cellular Cholesterol Efflux; J Biol Chem. 2014 Aug 29; 289(35): 24020–24029.

PSORIASIS – Kidney Disease

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The patient with psoriasis has an increased risk of developing one or more of a number of other diseases/conditions that share many immunological features with psoriasis.

CHART 1: Comorbidities Associated with Psoriasis

    Renal Disease

    Chronic Kidney Disease

1, 2, 3

Numerous case reports have described the coexistence of psoriasis and kidney disease (Glomerulonephritis – acute inflammation of the glomeruli, which are structures in the kidneys that are made up of tiny blood vessels). Various types of kidney disease have been discussed in case studies and clinical research papers, including:-

  1. IgA nephropathy

    Berger’s disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) lodges in the kidneys causing inflammation.

  1. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis

    a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli) causing serious scarring which leads to permanent kidney damage and even failure.

  1. Membranous nephropathy

    thickening of a part of the glomerular basement membrane.The glomerular basement membrane is a part of the kidneys that helps filter waste and extra fluid from the blood, and

  1. Proteinuria

    the presence of excess proteins in the urine.

  1. Urinary albumin excretion (UAE)

    the presence of excess albumin in the urine.

The exact causative relationship between Psoriasis and kidney disease is unknown; however, over several decades the incidence of the disease occurring in psoriasis patients has been well documented and researched. It has been suggested that given the strong relationship of the metabolic syndrome with psoriasis and kidney disease, it is perhaps not surprising that these diseases may coexist within a psoriasis sufferer.  Some mechanisms that have been put forward include immunologic mechanisms such as defects in T cell function as well as increased levels of immune complexes that underlie glomerular injury in psoriasis and tubular injury induced by raised uric acid concentrations in people with psoriasis. When the mechanisms that cause the systemic and kidney/renal disorders are analyzed, the systemic inflammatory process appears to play a fundamental role.1

Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy (IgAN)  – is the most common type of glomerular disease in psoriasis patients presenting with hematuria (presence of blood in the urine), a variable degree of proteinuria and occasionally also with a decreased glomerular filtration rate. Several cases of IgAN-accompanied psoriasis have been described in the literature. In one case study of a psoriasis patient with IgAN, the researchers found that the diffuse mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis was accompanied by vascular nephrosclerosis (hardening of the small blood vessels in the kidneys) and tubulointerstitial nephritis (swelling caused by tubulointerstitial injury) with diffuse fibrosis and tubular atrophy. 2

IgAN is sometimes present in association with seronegative spondyloarthropathies, including psoriatic arthritis. All of the seronegative spondyloarthropathies are associated with mucosal or skin inflammation, which may lead to an increased production of IgA and elevated serum IgA levels. One clinical study found that 14 patients (67%) from a group of 21 patients had evidence of IgA-containing circulating immune complexes at some time in the course of their psoriasis. 2

In a large population based cohort study the risk of moderate to advanced kidney disease in patients with psoriasis was extensively studied. Some 136,529 patients with mild psoriasis and 7354 patients with severe psoriasis based on treatment patterns were compared with 689,702 healthy patients. The researchers reported that “The combined results indicated that, although no association is seen in patients with truly mild disease (less than 2% body surface area affected), as consistent with other previous studies, associations were seen in moderate and severe psoriasis, which are estimated to affect over 20% of patients with psoriasis worldwide. The relative risk of chronic kidney disease was especially increased in younger patients, however, the clinical relevance of the absolute risk of chronic kidney disease attributable to psoriasis increases with age. In patients aged 40-50 with severe disease based on treatment patterns, psoriasis accounts for one extra case of chronic kidney disease per 134 patients per year, and in those aged 50-60, it accounts for one additional case per 62 patients per year.” 3

Urinary albumin excretion (UAE) (Microalbuminuria) is considered to be a marker of glomerular damage and can be used to predict diabetic or hypertensive nephropathy. Early detection of glomerular damage, when it is minimal and/or at a reversible stage is extremely important. Studies performed in patients with psoriasis have found increased UAE in psoriatics compared with healthy controls. Study results have also revealed a significant correlation between UAE and PASI scores (severity of lesions). 4

The researchers strongly recommended that “Closer monitoring for renal insufficiency should be considered for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis (those with 3% or more body surface area affected), and nephrotoxic drugs should be used with caution in this at risk population. 3

 

Commonly-used drugs which can affect renal function
  • Diuretics
  • Beta blockers Acebutolol (Sectral), Atenolol (Tenormin); Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Vasodilatorshydralazine (Apresoline) and minoxidil (Loniten)
  • ACE inhibitorsincluding Capoten (captopril), Vasotec (enalapril), Prinivil, Zestril (lisinopril), Lotensin (benazepril), Monopril (fosinopril), Altace (ramipril), Accupril (quinapril), Aceon (perindopril),  Mavik  (trandolapril), Univasc (moexipril)
  • Aminoglycosides including gentamicin, tobramycin, amikacin, streptomycin, neomycin, and paromomycin 
  • Contrast Dye used in some diagnostic tests such as MRIs.
  • Compound analgesics NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac. paracetamol)
  • Antiviral agentsincluding acyclovir (brand name Zovirax)
  • Lithium
  • Antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, methicillin, vancomycin, sulfonamides.
  • Chemotherapy drugsincluding interferons, pamidronate, cisplatin, carboplatin, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, quinine, mitomycin C, bevacizumab; etanercept, methotrexate and anti-thyroid drugs, including propylthiouracil, used to treat overactive thyroid.

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease include:

  • high blood pressure
  • changes in the amount and number of times urine is passed
  • changes in the appearance of your urine (e.g. colour is extremely dark, frothy or foaming urine)
  • blood in your urine
  • puffiness in your legs, ankles or around your eyes
  • pain in your kidney area
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches
  • lack of concentration
  • itching
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bad breath and a metallic taste in your mouth
  • muscle cramps
  • pins and needles in your fingers or toes.

As you can see these symptoms are very general and may be caused by other illnesses, however, it is extremely important to seek medical advice if you know that you may be susceptible to kidney disease (i.e. runs in the family) or you know that you are taking medication that could cause kidney disease.

References:

  • Wan, Joy et al. “Risk of Moderate to Advanced Kidney Disease in Patients with Psoriasis: Population Based Cohort Study.”The BMJ 347 (2013): f5961. PMC. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
  • Zadražil et al.; IgA nephropathy associated with psoriasis vulgaris: a contribution to the entity of “psoriatic nephropathy”; J NEPHROL 2006; 19:382-386
  • Wan J. et al.; Risk of moderate to advanced kidney disease in patients with psoriasis: population based cohort study; 2013; 347: f5961., Published online 2013 Oct 15. doi:  10.1136/bmj.f5961; PMCID: PMC3805477
  • Dervisoglu E. et al.; The spectrum of renal abnormalities in patients with psoriasis; Int Urol Nephrol; DOI 10.1007/s11255-011-9966-1

PSORIASIS AND COMORBIDITIES – Psychological and Psychiatric Disorders – PART 2

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WHAT IS COMORBIDITY?

Comorbidity is a concurrence of multiple diseases or disorders in association with a given disease, in this case, psoriasis.

 INCREASED RISK

 The patient with psoriasis has an increased risk of developing one or more of a number of other diseases/conditions that share many immunological features with psoriasis.

 CHART 1: Comorbidities Associated with Psoriasis

    Psychological and Psychiatric Disorders –

   Personality Traits and Personality Disorders

   Schizophrenia and other psychoses

   Sexual Dysfunction

1, 2, 3

Personality Traits and Personality Disorders

It has also been proposed by a number of researchers that patients with skin disease usually present with certain psychological traits that makes them vulnerable to stress. Although a specific personality structure for psoriasis patients has not yet been defined, psoriasis patients are reported to have more obsessive compulsive, avoidant, schizoid and passive-aggressive properties than healthy controls, however the research surrounding personality and psoriasis is still controversial. 4

The term personality represents the different behavioural styles that individuals present in their habitual habitats or environments.4 In one study of male psoriasis patients and a control group the psoriasis group scored significantly higher scores than the control group in Extravagance (NS3), Disorderliness (NS4), Novelty Seeking (NS), Anticipatory Worry (HA1), Shyness with Strangers (HA3), Fatigability and asthenia – weakness – lack of energy and strength (HA4), Harm Avoidance (HA), Dependence (RD3), Reward Dependence (RD), Self-forgetfulness (ST1), Transpersonal Identification (ST2), Spiritual Acceptance (ST3) and Self-Transcendence – the ability to focus attention on doing something for the sake of others (ST).5

Another study found that the severity of pruritus (itch) and the severity of psoriasis was associated with significantly higher scores for depression and anxiety, and showed the personality traits of somatic anxiety (physical reactions to anxiety e.g. sweating, nausea etc.), embitterment, mistrust, and physical trait aggressiveness. However, the researchers also found that the severity of itch was not associated with the severity of psoriasis from a PASI score perspective. In fact they found that there was a higher severity of itch reported in 30% of psoriasis patients in which the greater majority of these had very few lesions.6

Psoriasis Patients often report felt or perceived stigma, referring to the negative attitudes and responses that they perceive to be present in society and the sense of shame and fear of being discriminated against because of being ‘flawed’ due to the physical appearance of their lesions. The actual experiences of stigmatization range from –  people showing disgust or aversion, making negative comments or totally avoiding contact.6

Stigmatization contributes considerably to disability, depression and reduced quality of life in psoriasis patients, and can be considered a stressor. As distress can be a trigger for psoriasis exacerbation, this can become a vicious self-perpetuating cycle. The Type D personality has previously been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and impaired health behaviour e.g. smoking and alcohol dependence, which are both frequently reported in psoriasis. The two main features – SI (social inhibition) and NA (negative affectivity) – may both increase the impact of perceived stigmatization. SI refers to conscious or subconscious avoidance of a situation or social interaction because of the possibility of others disapproving of their feelings or expressions.  Whilst NA refers to negative emotions, including anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, and fear, and nervousness. Furthermore, individuals with high levels of NA may be more likely to perceive social interactions as negative, due to the associated cognitive bias to negative feedback. In one study researchers found that perceived stigmatization was particularly predicted by disease impact, as well as by lower age, lower education, greater disease severity and visibility, longer disease duration, higher levels of SI, having a type D personality and being single. 6

The researchers concluded that it seems likely that patients with psoriasis who are prone to feelings of helplessness regarding the disease may also experience a larger impact of psoriasis and magnify negative reactions of others. Type D personality and its subcomponent SI were found to be significant predictors of perceived stigmatization. The fear of disapproval that leads individuals to inhibit emotions or behaviour in SI may explain its relation to perceived stigmatization. They stated that socially inhibited individuals may be more sensitive to the reactions of others and may therefore perceive themselves to be stigmatized more readily. They found that not only was SI in itself, but also the combination of higher levels of SI and NA (type D personality) was a significant predictor of perceived stigmatization, which  corresponded with previous studies that suggested that type D was associated with social impairments. 6

It was suggested that Practitioners should screen for feelings of Stigmatization and related problems, and implement with the patient, targeted interventions that may focus on the impact of the condition on daily life, considering that this was the largest predictor. Therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Treatment, which should include social skills training, has shown promise as an intervention treatment. Previous research indicates that it can decrease perceived stigmatization in skin conditions, improve psychological and disease-related outcomes in psoriasis patients, and decrease feelings of helplessness, which shows high correlations with disease severity and impact. 6

It is extremely important that psoriasis sufferers do not cut themselves off from social interactions and it is highly recommended that they join a support group that is not only internet based but one that meets socially on a face to face basis. 

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Schizophrenia and other psychoses

 The psychiatric morbidity in psoriasis is considered an important indicator of the disability experienced by the patient than the dermatologic aspects of the disorder, sometimes more so than the physical aspect of the lesions. Some studies have found a possible connection between psoriasis and psychosis, including schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a polygenic (involvement of 2 or more genes), multifactorial disorder and recent neuroanatomical and neurobiological being related to the nervous system as well as environmental and genetic studies have suggested that inflammatory pathways are also involved in its pathogenesis. Because psoriasis is also considered a state of chronic systemic inflammation involving several genes and is a related immune processes might explain the link between psoriasis and its comorbidities.7

In a systematic review researchers reviewed the published clinical papers on the link between psoriasis and Schizophrenia and other psychoses. The results of the systematic review found that there is some evidence of a relationship between schizophrenia and/or disorders with psychotic features and psoriasis. In one case-controlled study the authors concluded that schizophrenic patients have a higher probability of having a diagnosis of psoriasis whilst other studies highlighted that psoriasis patients have a higher risk of having schizophrenic traits. The main characteristics of schizoid character are social isolation, intimacy avoidance and restricted affections. Although for a long time was considered that a schizoid character was related to schizophrenia, this has been found to be not always true. Nevertheless, schizoids may be more susceptible to psychosis. This personality shares with schizophrenia, although with its own subtleties, the problem of the distinction between the “self” and the “other”. Several studies have reported on the occurrence of psoriasis in schizophrenia patients being treated with cyclosporine A and olanzapine. And other schizophrenia patients with existing psoriasis found that treatment with haloperidol and levomepromazine actually also improved the patients psoriasis.7

 For some psoriasis patients it was found that whilst they were experiencing a worsening of their skin lesions their existing psychotic condition also worsened, and as their skin improved so too did their psychotic condition.7 The hypothesis is that psoriasis, schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions share similar pathways.

Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual health is an important part of general health and sexual dysfunctions can negatively affect self-esteem, confidence and interpersonal relationships. The impact of psoriasis upon sexual function seems to be substantial and it has a significant impact in quality of life. One study found that when compared to a control group, the psoriasis group showed significant impairment of all the components of sexual function: sexual interest, sexual arousal, orgasm, erection and sexual satisfaction. “Sexual interest” and “global sexual satisfaction” were the most negatively affected components. Male patients with psoriasis showed an increase in erectile dysfunction compared to controls. The prevalence of sexual dysfunction was 53.7% in patients with psoriasis vs. 17.5% in the healthy control group. The researchers also found that psoriasis lesions on the genitals, buttocks, abdomen or lumbar (back) region were significantly linked to sexual dysfunction and those psoriasis patients with sexual dysfunction had higher scores for depression (32.5%) and anxiety (50%). 9

Certain components of sexual response, such as sexual interest, depend primarily on psychological factors, and are impaired by conditions such as anxiety and depression, while others such as erection and orgasm can be affected by psychological and physical causes.

It has also been suggested that the sexual dysfunctions might not be as a direct result of depression, but rather of low self-esteem or other emotional problems. As sexual impairment in psoriasis patients was seen to occur in all components of the sexual response, the researchers concluded that this suggested that sexual dysfunction in psoriasis must be a consequence of several combined factors.9,10

If you have a concern about depression, bipolar, schizophrenia or sexual dysfunction please discuss your concerns with your General Practitioner.

Read also PSORIASIS AND COMORBIDITIES – Psychological and Psychiatric Disorders – Part 1

REFERENCES

  • Susskind W. and McGuire R.J.: The Emotional Factor in Psoriasis; Scot. med, J., 1959,4:503
  • Kessler R. C. et al.; Epidemiology of Anxiety Disorders; M.B. Stein and T. Steckler (eds.), Behavioral Neurobiology of Anxiety and Its Treatment, Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences 2, DOI 10.1007/7854_2009_9, # Springer?Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009, published online 3 September 2009
  • Nasreen S. et al.; Frequency and Magnitude of Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris; Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan 2008, Vol. 18 (7): 397-400
  • Martín-Brufau R. et al.; Personality in Patients with Psoriasis; Chapter 11 rfrom the book Psoriasis Downloaded from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/psoriasis
  • Ak M. et al.; Temperament and character properties of male psoriasis patients; Journal of Health Psychology; pg 1-8; 2011; DOI: 10.1177/1359105311423863
  • Remröd ;  Pruritus in Psoriasis: A Study of Personality Traits, Depression and Anxiety; Acta Derm Venereol 2015; 95: 439–443;
  • Ferreira BR, Pio Abreu JL and Figueiredo A.; Psoriasis, Schizophrenia and Disorders with Psychotic Features: Are They Linked?; J Schizophr Res. 2015;2(1): 1006.
  • Molina-Leyva A. et al.; Distribution pattern of psoriasis, anxiety and depression as possible causes of sexual dysfunction in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis; An Bras Dermatol. 2015;90(3):338-45
  • Sarbu, Maria Isabela; Tampa, Mircea; Sarbu, Alexandra Elenda; and Georgescu, Simona Roxana (2014) “Sexual Dysfunctions in Psoriatic Patients,” Journal of Mind and Medical Sciences: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 5.