Did you know that people who suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) have a higher chance of developing heart diseases?
What is PCOS?
Characterized by higher-than-normal androgen levels (also called ‘male hormones’), this syndrome affects the reproductive system and hormone production, i.e, estrogen, and progesterone. All these hormones are produced by the ovaries.
As the name suggests, PCOS also features many cysts on the ovaries. These cysts contain eggs that never reach the maturation level required to trigger ovulation. Lack of ovulation negatively impacts estrogen and progesterone levels, leading to higher androgen levels in the body. These androgens then disrupt the regular menstrual cycle and can cause fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and even premature delivery.
An extremely tough hormonal disorder, PCOS affects one in five women in India. It has also been suggested that around 70% of people suffering from PCOS never receive a diagnosis.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular periods or menstrual cycles
- Heavy bleeding during periods
- Hair growth all over the body due to high levels of male hormones
- Weight gain
- Darkening of the skin
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
- Difficulty getting pregnant
Risk Factors for Heart Diseases
High androgen levels in PCOS create hormonal imbalances even when you’re not on your period. This hormonal imbalance and low levels of estrogen have been linked to chest pains and anginas in women. Due to the lack of blood flow to the heart, owing to these low estrogen levels, women with irregular periods are also at risk of developing heart diseases and performing poorly on treadmill tests.
PCOS has also been linked to the risk of developing high cholesterol, which has long been noted to a severe risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, people suffering from PCOS are also insulin-resistant, meaning that insulin can accumulate in the body and lead to Type 2 diabetes.
This insulin resistance, along with the weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, greatly increases the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
Treatment for PCOS
However, it is important to note that while there is no singular cure or treatment for PCOS, it can be managed through diet and lifestyle modifications.
Research has found that losing just 5-10% of your body weight can improve PCOS symptoms and even regulate your menstrual cycle. This weight loss positively impacts cholesterol levels and insulin levels, leading to a lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Of course, as we are aware, weight loss is not an independent phenomenon and requires both exercise and diet control. Exercising three times a week for only 30-minutes can greatly contribute to your weight loss journey. A regular exercise routine can also improve your insulin levels, ovulation, and release endorphins which help keep mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression at bay.
If you or a loved one is suffering from PCOS or show any of the above-mentioned symptoms, please consult a gynecologist. Additionally, seek the advice of nutrition, fitness, and mental health experts offering online sessions on Spark.Live.
Spark.Live is an online consultancy platform that offers live sessions in 5 Indian languages – English, Hindi, Bangla, Tami, and Kannada. It features many nutritionists, dietitians, PCOS experts, yoga gurus, fitness experts, therapists, and counselors, all providing sessions at affordable rates. These experts are some of the best in India and can help you navigate the complex world of PCOS through targeted and customized diet and exercise plans.
This World Heart Day, focus on improving your heart health by getting regular checkups and being mindful of pre-existing conditions.