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A dermatologist-led model for CVD prevention in psoriasis may be feasible



A dermatologist-led model of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk management for patients with psoriatic disease – in which dermatologists do more than refer patients to a primary care physician (PCP) or a cardiologist – may be feasible, given the positive perspectives expressed by both clinicians and patients in a set of electronic surveys, researchers say.

In an analysis of survey responses from 183 dermatologists and 322 patients, John S. Barbieri, MD, MBA, and coinvestigators found that more than two-thirds of dermatologists (69.3%) agreed it “seems doable” to check lipids and calculate a 10-year cardiovascular risk score, and over one-third (36.1%) agreed they could prescribe statins when indicated.

Dr. John S. Barbieri dermatologist, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Dr. John S. Barbieri

The patient survey was distributed through the National Psoriasis Foundation to individuals who were seeing a dermatologist or rheumatologist for psoriatic disease; the clinician survey was distributed through the American Academy of Dermatology to dermatologists who reported caring for patients with psoriasis. (A survey of rheumatologists was similarly conducted, but the number of participants fell short of the needed sample size.)

Most patients surveyed indicated they would be receptive to their dermatologist (or rheumatologist) playing a larger role in screening and managing CVD risk, and that they would be similarly likely to follow recommendations regarding risk screening and management whether the advice came their dermatologist/rheumatologist or from their PCP.

The clinician survey focused on lipids and statin use, and did not address other elements of risk management. Still, the researchers see their findings as an early but promising step in finding better models to improve cardiovascular outcomes for patients with psoriatic disease, who too often do not engage with their PCPs despite their increased risk of CVD and a higher risk of premature mortality from CVD.

Fewer than half of commercially insured adults aged under 65 years visit a PCP each year, the researchers noted. And among the patients in their survey, approximately 20% did not have a PCP or had not seen their PCP in the past year.

Other research has shown that only a small minority of patients with psoriasis have an encounter with their PCP within a year of establishing care with their dermatologist, and that “over half of patients with psoriasis have undetected risk factors like dyslipidemia or hypertension,” Dr. Barbieri, of the department of dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, said in an interview.

“There’s a gap here, a missing link in the chain of cardiovascular disease prevention,” he said. “What if the dermatologist or rheumatologist could be more engaged in [CV] risk protection? ... It’s the idea of meeting the patients where they are.”

The surveys

The clinician survey focused on statins because of their ease of use, efficacy and safety, and the need for minimal monitoring, Dr. Barbieri said in the interview. “On the spectrum of things you can do for cardiovascular disease prevention, it’s one of the easiest ones.”

Michael S. Garshick, caridiologist, New York University, NYU Langone NYU Langone

Dr. Michael S. Garshick

In an accompanying editorial, cardiologists Michael S. Garshick, MD, MS, and Jeffrey S. Berger, MD, MS, both of the department of medicine, New York University, wrote that, “despite the well-described association between psoriasis and CVD, only 35% of patients with psoriasis diagnosed with hyperlipidemia are adequately treated with statin therapy.”

“For many of these patients, their dermatologist or rheumatologist may be their only source of contact with the health care system,” they added.

Most studies targeting CVD risk in psoriasis have focused on targeting psoriatic inflammation, and few studies have explored strategies to improve modifiable CVD risk factor control with pharmacological therapy, they said.

Jeffrey S. Berger, MD, cardiologist, New York Univesrity, and director of NYU Langone's Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease NYU Langone

Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger

In addition to the questions about receptiveness to identifying and potentially treating CVD risk with statins, the dermatologist survey included a best-worst scaling choice experiment to assess preferences for implementation approaches. Dermatologists were asked to rank their preferences for eight implementation strategies that have been shown in published studies to help increase statin prescribing rates.

The three highest-ranked strategies among dermatologists were clinical decision support, physician educational outreach, and patient education materials. The lowest-ranked strategies were comparisons with peers, a pay-for-performance option, and a mobile app/texting service to remind patients to undergo CVD risk screening.

Of the 183 dermatologists in the survey, 28.4% were from academic settings, 11.5% were from multispecialty groups, and 45.4% were from dermatology groups. (A low response rate of 5.2% for dermatologists raises some questions about the generalizability of the findings, Dr. Garshick and Dr. Berger noted in their editorial.)


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