Increased risk of cardiovascular disease shown in PCOS patients

from PCOS should be closely monitored for CVD risk factors."

In a related study, Dr. Saara Taponen and researchers at the University of Oulu, Finland and Imperial College, London used a symptom-based approach to investigate whether there is an association between CVD and type 2 diabetes risk factors and irregular menstruation and hirsutism--both symptoms of PCOS. The researchers examined whether women with the symptoms of PCOS would have different metabolic or inflammatory CVD risk factor profiles when compared with controls.

"While past studies have shown that menstrual irregularity, which is a sign of PCOS, may be a metabolic marker for CVD, solid evidence linking PCOS to CVD disease has been difficult to acquire because of the lack of a clear definition of PCOS and the varying clinical picture of the syndrome," explained Dr. Taponen, the study's first author.

Dr. Taponen and her colleagues studied 518 cases (women who reported symptoms of hirsutism or irregular menstruation) and 1036 controls who were followed from birth until the age of 31 as part of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. Results of several tests including blood pressure, cholesterol, CRP, insulin and body mass index (BMI) indicated that subjects with PCOS symptoms had higher levels of several CVD risk factors. The researchers concluded that self-reported symptoms of PCOS are a feasible screening tool for CVD among women. They also noted that in both groups, increases in BMI correlated with unfavorable changes in metabolic measurements for CVD.

"Obesity obviously is a central part of the development of metabolic abnormalities related to PCOS, perhaps due to genetic susceptibility or changes in intrauterine programming of the body functions," note the authors. "Based on our study, particularly obese women with PCOS symptoms seem to be at higher CVD risk."


Contact: Marisa Lavine
The Endocrine Society & The Hormone Foundation

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