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‘Heart Risk’ from Polycystic Ovaries

Apr 22, 2002
 

Scans showed an increased prevalence of coronary artery calcification among women with PCOS. >A team from the University of Pittsburgh say their study showed women with the condition may be at risk of premature calcification in their coronary arteries – an early sign of heart disease.

However, the results also suggest that the risk of heart disease could be reduced by controlling weight and insulin sensitivity, delegates at a meeting of the American Heart Association were told. PCOS affects 5 per cent of women and is characterized by irregular periods, failure to ovulate, excess hair growth and infertility. The condition can also cause problems with metabolism, including insulin resistance, abnormal blood fat levels and weight gain.

In the study, researchers scanned the coronary arteries of 41 women with PCOS, and 43 controls, who had an average age of 47. Scans showed an increased prevalence of coronary artery calcification among women with PCOS, researcher Professor Evelyn Talbott said. Almost 66 per cent of women with PCOS had coronary calcium deposits, compared with 34.9 per cent of women in the control group.

"Preliminary results from our study suggest an association between the metabolic abnormalities experienced by women with PCOSand premature atherosclerosis [hardening] in the coronary arteries," said Prof Talbott. Researchers found that the excess calcification among women with PCOS was related to increased circulating insulin concentrations, low levels of "good" cholesterol and increased waist circumference. "These results highlight the need to reduce central obesity and improve insulin sensitivity in young women with PCOS," said Prof Talbott. "Dietary intervention and exercise in the teens and 20s, coupled with the use of insulin-sensitizing agents in select individuals, may help to prevent adverse cardiovascular outcomes, such as angina and heart attack, in later life." Source: Health Media Ltd