Affecting millions of women worldwide, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal, endocrine and metabolic disorder characterized by a group of signs and symptoms. The symptoms include irregular cycles, weight gain, and excess testosterone leading to acne, hair loss and hirsutism.
PCOS is most commonly associated with infertility however, it is important to note that women with PCOS are in an increased risk of heart disease.
This February is heart health month and heart disease is one of the most common cause of death among women in the United States and Canada.
Did you know that if you have PCOS you are at a greater risk for heart disease? This is due to high levels of insulin that are found in PCOS patients – this increases your chance of high cholesterol, blood pressure and atherosclerosis. All of these markers can increase your chance of a heart attack and stroke at a younger age than women without PCOS.
This post is not to scare you, but to be aware of the long-term risks associated with PCOS. There are some things you can do in order to manage your PCOS symptoms and protect your heart.
1. Eat a Whole food diet: This will look like lots of vegetables, lean protein and complex carbs. Ensure you are getting enough vegetables in your day. Whether you snack on some vegetables in the afternoon or add it to your smoothie in the morning! Fibre is also important – opt for ground flax seeds, chia, or hemp hearts!
2. Get Moving: Doing some physical activity is important! Plan on parking your car a little further away from the grocery store or office. Take the stairs whenever you have the opportunity or take a walk during your lunchtime. Finding ways to get some added steps in your day will help support your heart.
3. Manage stress: Chronic stress can really impact symptoms of PCOS, increase inflammation in the body and worsen your risk of heart disease. It is very important to manage stress daily using activities that help to calm your nerves down such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation.
4. Get your bloodwork done: Common tests to assess for heart health include a cholesterol panel and HS-CRP, which is a marker of inflammation. In order to test for Insulin resistance, fasting glucose and fasting insulin is commonly recommended. Additionally, screening for diabetes via an Hba1c test is important. Early detection and treatment of health issues can help prevent any serious complications. Want to learn more? Check out this article on a list of labs for PCOS.
I encourage you to think of your health and your future because what we do today will impact our future selves! Small steps can go a long way. If you have any questions on how I can help feel free to message me or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are Women at Risk for Heart Disease? Government of Canada. (2009, January 29). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cardiovascular-disease/women-risk-heart-disease.html
Women and heart disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 14). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm