Dermatology appointment leads to life-saving cardiac care

Dermatology appointment leads to life-saving cardiac care

Christopher Bengson MD, MHS, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist for the Indian Health Service in Phoenix, Ariz., and a Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, was named an American Academy of Dermatology Patient Care Hero for making a life-saving recommendation that prevented a heart attack in a psoriasis patient.


Roger Richards struggled with painful psoriasis for 20 years, which had a significant impact on his confidence and quality of life. Richards began seeing Dr. Bengson when his initial treatment was no longer working. They developed a strong and trusting relationship over many years and as his skin improved, he confided in Dr. Bengson about other health concerns. During a check-up, he shared he was having minor chest pains and was concerned that his blood pressure medication was no longer effective. After performing a brief exam, Dr. Bengson recommended Richards go to the Arizona Heart Hospital immediately.


Health disparities in Native American communities are significant, so I’m invested in the overall health of my patients and try to provide guidance beyond their dermatologic conditions,” said Dr. Bengson. “Because of my familiarity with Roger’s medical history, and the relationship between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease, I knew he needed emergency care immediately.”


At the hospital, Richards had two stents placed in his left anterior descending artery. If not for this treatment, he was told he may have had one of the deadliest kinds of heart attacks, often called the “widow-maker.”


I felt comfortable discussing my chest pains with Dr. Bengson because I know he truly cares about every aspect of my health,” Richards said. “Dr. Bengson’s relationship with me goes beyond dermatology, and his investment in my well-being saved my life.”


The AAD created the Patient Care Heroes program to recognize physicians who transform patients’ lives by utilizing their expertise and collaborating with other physicians.


“Dr. Bengson’s knowledge of serious health conditions and emphasis on building long-term trust with patients highlights how dermatologists provide transformative, life-saving care,” said board-certified dermatologist Mark Kaufmann, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “This expertise is critical in improving every aspect of a patient’s life.”