KEY POINTS

  • Nearly 6% to 20% of women of reproductive age have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Most of them are likely to be obese, overweight, diabetic or have high blood pressure
  • New study pointed out that PCOS raised heart disease risk in women in their 30s and 40s

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal problem in women of reproductive age and affects nearly 5 million American women in this age group. A new study warned these women are more likely to get heart diseases compared to those who didn’t have PCOS.

However, the researchers assure that PCOS isn’t any life sentence and that there were many ways to maintain heart health. Small lifestyle changes like healthy eating and staying physically active can help.

About 6 to 20% of women of reproductive age have polycystic ovary syndrome. The condition is characterized by multiple cysts in the ovaries, irregular periods, facial hair, acne, pelvic pain, patches of dark, thick skin on the neck, arms, breasts and thighs, weight gain and difficulty getting pregnant.

Women diagnosed with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese and have underlying diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. These are all the risk factors of heart diseases and stroke.

The experts at the University of Copenhagen sought to examine whether such a risky profile translated into a higher likelihood of developing heart diseases and if that persisted across their lifespan.

“Some PCOS symptoms are only present during the reproductive years, so it’s possible that the raised chance of heart disease might disappear later in life,” Dr. Oliver-Williams, the study’s lead author told European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

The Study:

The researchers analyzed over 60,000 women who were under fertility treatments like IVF in the period 1994-2015.

Here’s what they found:

  • 10.2% of the study participants had PCOS
  • 4.8% of these women developed cardiovascular diseases
  • Women with PCOS aged 50 and over didn’t have any higher risk of developing heart diseases compared to their peers without the condition
  • Women in their reproductive age with PCOS were at a significantly higher risk of heart diseases compared to those without the condition

Cardiovascular health seems to be a particular problem for young women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Older studies have indicated that these differences diminish with age.

"As women without PCOS get older, they increasingly become overweight and develop high blood pressure and diabetes. In a negative sense, they catch up to their peers with PCOS," Dr. Oliver-Williams told ESC.

heart-care-1040250_1280 Heart Photo: InspiredImages, Pixabay