Increased risk of cardiovascular disease shown in PCOS patients

Chevy Chase, MD, May 5, 2004 Women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common reproductive abnormalities in women, have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to two new studies published this month in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). The new findings may help doctors identify women who are at risk for developing CVD.

PCOS, which affects five to 10 percent of reproductive aged women, is closely linked with several serious health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, CVD and metabolic syndrome. Signs of PCOS include hirsutism (hair growth), menstrual irregularities and obesity. As rates of obesity increase around the world, doctors and researchers are taking a closer look at related conditions, such as PCOS, to better understand associated health risks. The May issue of JCEM contains two studies that help to establish the link between cardiovascular disease and PCOS.

In one study, Dr. Zeev Blumenfeld and researchers at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional study on 116 PCOS patients and 94 BMI-matched controls to determine whether levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)--a protein that is nonspecifically increased in inflammatory states and is an early indicator of CVD--are increased in PCOS patients. The researchers measured two forms of CRP in both groups as well as glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides. Tests indicated that 36.8 percent of PCOS patients had extremely high (above 5 mg/liter) levels of CRP compared to only 9.6 percent of control women (p< 0.001).

"Our study confirms preliminary research on the relationship between PCOS and cardiovascular disease," explained Dr. Blumenfeld, the senior author on the study. "These findings, when combined with previous research in this area, indicate that women with PCOS may be at risk for early-onset cardiovascular disease. Based on these findings, women who suffer

Contact: Marisa Lavine
The Endocrine Society & The Hormone Foundation

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