Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at higher risk for cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction, compared with women in the general population, according to retrospective data presented this week at the Society for Endocrinology BES 2012 meeting in Harrogate, United Kingdom.
“We found that, compared to the expected rate in the same age group, their risk of cardiovascular events was much higher,” Trevor Howlett, MD, FRCP, researcher and consultant endocrinologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, United Kingdom, told Endocrine Today.
Howlett and colleagues analyzed data on CV events in 2,353 women presenting with PCOS to endocrine clinics between 1988 and 2009. The prevalence of CV events in the PCOS population was compared with the prevalence in the local female population of 432,506 using regional hospital episode data.
The researchers observed 49 CV events in PCOS patients, including MI, heart failure and angina. Among women aged 45 to 54 years with PCOS, the prevalence of MI and angina were significantly greater compared with the local population (1.9% and 2.5% vs. 0.2% and 0.8%, respectively, P<.0001). This statistically significant difference was also present for MI in older age groups and age-specific CV mortality was also higher than published national rates.
The mechanism that causes this elevated risk remains unknown, but the data suggest that physicians should aim to reduce overall CV risk by promoting weight loss, good diet, physical activity and smoking cessation in their patients with PCOS, according to Howlett.
“The message for [physicians] is that we need to think about future cardiovascular risk in these patients,” Howlett said. “We are currently developing a structured education program to try and encourage young women with PCOS to do things in their lives to reduce the risk of these outcomes.”
In an interview with Endocrine Today, Stephen Franks, MD, professor of reproductive endocrinology at the Imperial College of London, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Hammersmith Hospital, said although the study demonstrated that women with PCOS have more cardiac events, there were several confounding variables in the research.
“They did not adjust for obesity, ethnicity and concordant diabetes,” Franks said, noting that it was not a formal cohort study, and based on the data, it was premature to conclude women with PCOS are at elevated risk for CV events. – by Louise Gagnon
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Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.