Elevated Cardiovascular Concerns for Women with PCOS and Dysmenorrhea
Two reproductive health issues, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and dysmenorrhea, are now being linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in women. These findings are based on preliminary studies set to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality among women, with nearly 45% of women over the age of 20 affected.
Eugenia Alleva, M.D., M.S., emphasizes the importance of focusing on menstruation-related factors, especially in younger women who are often not included in current risk prediction models. These models are typically based on older and predominantly male populations.
The first study examines the impact of PCOS, a hormonal imbalance affecting roughly 10% of women of childbearing age, on the risk of high blood pressure in teenage girls. The study found a 30% higher risk of high blood pressure in girls with PCOS compared to those without.
Sherry Zhang, M.D., the lead author of the study, points out the scarcity of data on the cardiovascular effects of PCOS in adolescents and the need for early identification of cardiometabolic complications to reduce future cardiovascular risk.
The second study delves into dysmenorrhea, the most common menstrual problem, characterized by painful periods. The analysis indicates that women under 50 with dysmenorrhea have double the risk of ischemic heart disease compared to those without the condition.
Both studies underscore the importance of recognizing these reproductive health conditions as significant risk factors for heart disease in young women. This recognition could lead to better cardiovascular risk assessment and prevention strategies tailored for this demographic. The findings also highlight the critical role of gynecologists in discussing heart health and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle during annual “well-woman” visits.