PsoriasisNet Spotlight Article
5 Medical Screenings People with Psoriasis Should Have
Research continues to show that having psoriasis increases your risk
for getting other medical conditions. These conditions include heart
disease, diabetes, and stroke.
The good news is that psoriasis is only one risk factor. You cannot
change the fact that you have psoriasis. But you can change some
risk factors. By having the following medical screenings, you can
learn what risk factors you have. Best of all, you can do something
about these risk factors.
Some people who have psoriasis get a type of arthritis called
psoriatic arthritis. Be sure to tell your dermatologist if you
have the following:
your fingernails or toenails, such as pits or crumbling
painful joints, especially when waking up
These may be early indications
of psoriatic arthritis.
What’s involved: There is no test that can be used to
diagnose psoriatic arthritis. Instead, your dermatologist will
ask you questions and look at how you move. You may also need
blood tests, an MRI, or x-rays.
What the results mean: If you have psoriatic arthritis,
treatment will be recommended. Treatment helps to prevent
further damage to your joints. Without treatment, psoriatic
arthritis can cause deformed joints and disability.
Blood pressure check
If you have high blood pressure, you have a greater risk for:
Since psoriasis also increases
your risk for these medical conditions, it is important to have
your blood pressure checked.
What’s involved: A nurse or other medical professional
places a cuff on your arm, squeezes the cuff to make it tight,
and slowly releases the pressure. Be sure to ask for the
What the results mean: When you ask what your blood
pressure is, you will be given 2 numbers such as 120 over 80.
The first number is the systolic number. The second number is
the diastolic number. The following table from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows what these numbers
Blood Pressure Levels
Systolic: less than 120 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
At risk (prehypertension)
Systolic: 120–139 mmHg
Diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
Table taken from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
High Blood Pressure.
If you have high blood
pressure, you can lower it. Losing weight, exercising 3 times
per week (30 minutes per session), and taking medicine are some
ways to lower your blood pressure. By lowering your blood
pressure, you can reduce your risk for developing diabetes,
heart disease, and having a stroke.
Knowing your cholesterol levels is important. When you have
too much cholesterol in your blood, you have a higher risk for
heart disease and stroke.
Like blood pressure, the only way to know your cholesterol
levels is to get them checked.
What’s involved: A simple blood test.
What the results mean:
Desirable Cholesterol Levels
Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL ("bad" cholesterol)
Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL ("good" cholesterol)
40 mg/dL or higher
Less than 150 mg/dL
Table appears on the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, see
If your cholesterol levels do not fall within the desirable
range, there is good news. You can change your cholesterol
levels. Things you can do to change your cholesterol include
eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and losing weight.
Body mass index (BMI)
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for developing
many medical conditions. These include:
Learning your BMI is a fairly
accurate way to tell whether you have too much body fat.
What’s involved: You can find out your body mass index by
using an online tool from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). All you need to do is type in your height and
Adult BMI Indicator
What the result means: When you use the Adult BMI
Indicator (link above), your result will be given as a number.
This number tells you what range your weight falls within —
underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.
If the number indicates that you are overweight or obese, you
should discuss this with your dermatologist or family doctor.
Losing weight can help reduce your risk for several diseases.
Glucose tolerance test
Studies have found that people who have psoriasis have an
increased risk of developing diabetes. A glucose tolerance test
is one of the tests used to diagnose diabetes.
What’s involved: The most widely used test is the oral
glucose tolerance test. To have this test, you will need to
fast. This means that you must not eat or drink anything after
midnight on the day before the test. On the day of the test, you
will first have your blood drawn. Then you will be asked to
drink a liquid that contains glucose.
You will then have blood draws every 30 to 60 minutes for up to
3 hours. The purpose of this test is to measure the amount of
glucose in your blood at the time of the blood draw.
What the results means: If you have too much glucose in
your blood after each blood draw, you may have untreated
Dermatologists also recommend that their patients with
psoriasis make an appointment with their family doctor for a
complete physical exam.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Cholesterol.” Available
www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/what_you_can_do.htm. Last accessed
January 7, 2011.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “High Blood Pressure.”
www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/what_you_can_do.htm. Last accessed
January 7, 2011.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Adult BMI Calculator:
English,” Available at
Last accessed January 7, 2011.
Gulliver, WP. “Importance of Screening for Comorbidities in
Psoriasis Patients.” Medscape, posted 2008. Available at
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/573087 . Last accessed January 7,
All content solely
developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
High blood pressure often
does not have any symptoms, so it's important to get
your blood pressure checked.