Blood markers suggest higher risk of cardiovascular disease for women with PCOS

May 12, 2011

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have higher blood levels of biochemical markers linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) than women without the condition, perhaps pointing to an increased risk of CVD later in life, according to a new study presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have higher blood levels of biochemical markers linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) than women without the condition, perhaps pointing to an increased risk of CVD later in life, according to a new study presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology.

Researchers at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, conducted a meta-analysis of 130 studies of risk markers for CVD in women with PCOS to determine whether levels of 10 biochemical blood markers for CVD differed in women with PCOS and controls. The studies enrolled a total of 6,260 women with PCOS and 4,546 controls. Seven of the 10 markers were elevated in women with PCOS, indicating that the women might be susceptible to developing CVD. The researchers don’t know whether a direct link exists between the elevated risk markers and increased CVD in women with PCOS.

“This meta-analysis of biochemical markers shows that the CVD risk factors are present in earlier life, and that they seem to be independent of other factors which can lead to cardiovascular disease in later life, such as obesity,” the authors write. “The association between CVD risk and CVD markers depends on the nature of the individual marker and the magnitude of the difference; this, plus the fact that there are several of these biochemical markers raised, is what makes this a potential warning.”

PCOS affects 5% to 10% of women of reproductive age. Past studies have not demonstrated a conclusive link between PCOS and CVD risk markers. Although the markers don’t directly predict cardiovascular risk, women with elevated marker levels tend to have a higher rate of CVD in later life than the general population.