HONOLULU, April 26 Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at risk for premature calcification in their coronary arteries an early indication of cardiovascular disease according to Evelyn O. Talbott, Dr.P.H., professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. However, controlling weight and insulin sensitivity may reduce the risk.
PCOS, characterized by menstrual irregularities, chronic anovulation, excess hair growth and infertility, is a common reproductive endocrine disorder affecting five percent of the female population. Women with PCOS also experience several metabolic abnormalities, including insulin resistance, increased circulating insulin levels, abnormal blood lipid levels and increased central obesity ("apple body shape"). Until recently, PCOS was not recognized as a single, multi-dimensional disorder. Women suffering from it were instead treated for individual symptoms, particularly irregular menstrual periods and infertility.
"Preliminary results from our study suggest an association between the metabolic abnormalities experienced by women with PCOS, collectively termed metabolic Syndrome X or metabolic cardiovascular syndrome, and premature atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries," said Dr. Talbott. Coronary calcium deposits are an indicator of early, subclinical cardiovascular disease.
In the study, researchers used electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) to scan coronary arteries of 41 women with PCOS, and 43 controls. Their average age was 47. Scans showed an increased prevalence of coronary artery calcification among women with PCOS, with 65.9 percent of women with PCOS showing coronary calcium deposits, compared with 34.9 percent of women in the control group.
The excess calcification among women with PCOS was shown to be related to increased circulating insulin concentrations, low HDL cholesterol levels (the "good" cholesterol) and increased waist circumfer
Contact: Kathryn Duda
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center