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A dermatology appointment leads to life-saving action

A routine dermatology appointment leads to unexpected life-saving cardiovascular care.

Roger's story

SkinSerious patient story, Roger Richards
Roger Richards, patient
I’ve struggled with psoriasis for about 20 years. The itching caused by my psoriasis was irritating, and I was very self-conscious about my skin. My current treatment was no longer working, and my psoriasis was increasingly affecting my quality of life. My condition made it difficult to have a relationship and I worried people would think I was contagious. I refused to go swimming and avoided working outside because I wanted to keep my skin covered. My primary care doctor referred me to Dr. Christopher Bengson, a dermatologist with the Indian Health Service in Arizona.

Dr. Bengson put me on a more vigorous treatment, and my psoriasis improved. I followed up with him every three to four months. When I walk into his office, he greets me with a smile and takes the time to get to know me. As the years have passed, he has become a trusted friend because I know he truly cares about me and every aspect of my health.

During a regular check-up, I told Dr. Bengson that I was experiencing minor chest pains and had concerns about my blood pressure medication. Dr. Bengson performed a brief exam and advised me to go to the Arizona Heart Hospital immediately. At the hospital, I was taken to the catheterization lab, where I had two stents placed in my left anterior descending artery.

I appreciate that Dr. Bengson takes the time to talk to me and to get to know me. I do not think I would have discussed my chest pains with him if I did not feel comfortable or if I did not think he would care. If not for Dr. Bengson’s guidance, I may have had one of the deadliest kinds of heart attacks – the "widow-maker." I’m confident Dr. Bengson’s medical expertise made a difference. His relationship with his patients goes beyond dermatology, and his investment in my overall well-being saved my life.

A dermatologist's perspective

Christopher Bengson, MD, MHS, FAAD

“As a dermatologist, I have the opportunity to treat my patients’ skin and educate them about how to improve their overall health. The Native American community faces significant health disparities, so I not only talk to my patients about their skin, but I also often steer the conversation to learn about their diet, lifestyle, and overall health. These conversations with Roger gave me a better understanding of his medical history and built his trust. Knowing his background and the connection between psoriasis and cardiac events, I knew he was at risk and needed to receive treatment immediately.”

─ CDR Christopher Bengson, MD, MHS, FAAD, United States Public Health Service Dermatologist, Phoenix Indian Medical Center, IHS

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