The first condition the study has zoned in on is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that often takes years and several doctors to diagnose, and which is a leading cause of infertility. It is also known to be associated with heart-related conditions, but “historically, research studies about heart health have not included information about menstrual cycles.” Tell me something I d0n’t know.
Anyway, this study confirms the connection of PCOS with other health conditions, particularly those that “can negatively impact heart health”:
In comparison to participants without PCOS, participants with PCOS were almost four times more likely to have pre-diabetic conditions and three times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes. In people with diabetes, chronic elevations in glucose may damage blood vessels in the heart.
The prevalence of high blood pressure and high cholesterol were 1.7 times higher for participants with PCOS than participants without PCOS. High blood pressure is when blood flows with too much force, and this can damage the walls of arteries over time. Too much bad cholesterol can clog or block arteries, preventing the flow of blood.
A majority, 61%, of participants with PCOS reported obesity, defined by a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30 kg/m2. Prevalence of obesity was almost double for participants with PCOS than participants without PCOS. Obesity can impact cholesterol levels, affect blood pressure, and increase risk of conditions like diabetes.
Irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, was more common among participants with PCOS (5.6%) than participants without PCOS (3.7%). Of the participants that did not report a PCOS diagnosis but reported family history of PCOS, 6.2% had arrhythmia.