Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at increased risk for metabolic and cardiovascular disease, an Australian retrospective cohort study found.
Besides facing infertility, women with PCOS are more likely to be hospitalized for reasons unrelated to reproductive health or injury than their counterparts, the researchers reported in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis, endometrial cancer, heart disease, asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, late-onset diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental health conditions were all associated with a diagnosis of PCOS, the analysis found (Table).
"PCOS has profound implications for a woman's reproductive health as well as her long-term risk of chronic illness," said one of the study's authors, Roger Hart, MD, MRCOG, FRANZCOG, CREI, of the University of Western Australia and Fertility Specialists of Western Australia, both in Perth, Australia. "Our study indicates women who have PCOS have twice as many hospital admissions as women without the condition. Additional health care resources should be directed to address the risks facing this population."
Hart and his colleagues examined health records for 2,566 women aged 15 and older who received a diagnosis of PCOS during a hospital visit in Western Australia between 1997 and 2011. The records were then compared with hospitalization records for 25,660 women of similar ages. Researchers tracked the participants' hospitalization records until the women reached a median age of 35.8 years.
The increased risks for disease were most pronounced when the researchers looked at metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Of importance is that the associations are unlikely to slow down as women age, Hart said.
"Since only 25% of the women we studied were older than 40, we anticipate the rate of diagnosis would rise as these women continue to age," he explained.