Credit: Revolution Health

An Australian study has found the previously unsuspected cause of heart disease in women, connected to the hormonal disorder polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

The disease affects nearly 10 per cent of women of reproductive age and it is the leading cause of infertility.

Young women with PCOS are warned by Adelaide-based researchers they may exhibit signs of irregular heart function usually experienced by older women with known heart disease.

The degree of blood clotting and blood vessel abnormalities seen in woman with PCOS in his study was very striking, said Dr Alicia Chan, a cardiologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and PhD student with the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute.

... similar to what we normally see in older patients with known heart disease.

With women now making up almost half of all Australians affected by heart disease, it's very important that we understand the link between PCOS and these heart disease risk factors.

According to a small pilot study, there were significant abnormalities in heart functioning among women with PCOS who had an average age of 31.

The physical signs of PCOS include irregular periods and increased levels of masculine hormones that trigger acne and hairier body.

The condition was observed in women of all body shapes, thus cancelling the myth that it affected overweight women only. Now it is also recently discovered that PCOS-related heart disorders occurred regardless of a woman's weight.

Dr Chan said, It affected women of all body shapes and sizes including lean women.

This is the first study to suggest that PCOS is strongly associated with an increased risk of heart disease independent of women's weight or evidence of diabetes.

A relatively bigger study will now be conducted to confirm the results and women of 20 to 60 years of age and who have PCOS are invited to get involved.

Please contact Dr Chan at (O8) 8222 7539 or email if you are interested in taking part in the study.