PCOS and Heart Disease

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition that affects an estimated 6–20% of women of reproductive age.

‘Polycystic’ literally translates to ‘many cysts’. This refers to the many partially formed follicles on the ovaries, which each contain an egg or ovum. These rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs that can be fertilised.

Women with PCOS commonly have high levels of insulin that don’t work effectively or male hormones known as ‘androgens’, or both.

The cause is not fully understood, however family history and genetics, hormones and lifestyle play a role. Insulin resistance is present in up to four out of five women with PCOS. It is also associated with obesity and low-grade inflammation and the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) is increased in women with PCOS.

A recent study in Denmark looked at Cardiovascular Disease event rates in 18112 women in a national register with PCOS and no previous diagnosis of cardiac or vascular disease, compared to 52769 age matched controls. It demonstrated that the event rate of CVD including hypertension and dyslipidemia was higher in PCOS compared to controls. The authors recommended that the risk of developing CVD must be considered even in young women with PCOS.

Contact us at Access Cardiology on (08) 9389 8658 if you would like to visit one of our Cardiologists for Heart screening.

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