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Is there an independent effect of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and menopause on the prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis in middle aged women?

Authors Talbott EO, Zborowski J, Rager J, Stragand JR

Published 11 April 2008 Volume 2008:4(2) Pages 453—462


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Evelyn O Talbott, Jeanne Zborowski, Judy Rager, Juley R Stragand

Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Abstract: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common reproductive endocrine condition manifests at puberty, and is characterized by hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation, and obesity. PCOS cases exhibit an adverse coronary heart disease (CHD) profile at an early age, including insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and increased central adiposity. It can be hypothesized that the menopausal transition, whether natural or surgical, may provide an additional “insult”, resulting in greater cumulative risk to their vasculature. Coronary artery calcification (CAC), a measure of subclinical atherosclerosis (SCA), was measured by electron beam tomography in 149 PCOS cases and 166 controls (mean age 47.3 and 49.4 respectively). Cases had a higher prevalence of CAC (63.1%) compared to controls (41.0%), (p = 0.037) after adjustment for age and BMI. A total of 22 cases and 39 controls had undergone natural menopause, 12 cases and 26 controls underwent surgical menopause (with biochemical confirmation) and 115 cases and 101 controls reported being currently premenopausal. There was a significant difference in CAC values between cases and controls in all three-menopause categories including pre-menopausal, surgically induced and natural menopause (p < 0.001). Duration since menopause (years) and use of hormone replacement therapy were not different between cases and controls for the two menopause groups. Logistic regression was carried out with CAC (≤10 vs >10) as the dependent variable, and independent variables: PCOS status, current age, BMI, and menopausal status, (pre-menopause, surgical and natural menopause) and selected CHD risk factors. The data indicate that women with PCOS exhibit significantly increased CAC compared to controls after adjustment for age and BMI and menopausal status. PCOS status and fasting glucose were significant risk factors for CAC (p < 0.05). Both natural and surgical menopause were independent risk factors for CAC as well (p < 0.01). HDLT was of borderline significance, p < 0.10. Further follow-up of this cohort will be valuable in determining whether PCOS status continues to affect cardiovascular risk as they undergo the menopausal transition.

Keywords: polycystic ovary syndrome, coronary artery calcification, subclinical atherosclerosis, coronary vasculature, coronary heart disease risk, menopausal transition

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