Cardiovascular risk in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

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Abstract

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous disease affecting about 5–10% of reproductive-age female population, which is predominantly characterized by chronic anovulation, hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance. PCOS women represent an intriguing biological model illustrating the relationship between hormonal pattern and cardiovascular risk profile, presenting a cluster of cardiovascular features, such as obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, impaired cardiopulmonary functional capacity, autonomic dysfunction and low-grade chronic inflammation. Metabolic syndrome should be also considered in the clinical evaluation and management of PCOS. The treatment of PCOS and its complications should not be based solely on pharmacological therapies trying to improve hyperandrogenism, hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. Although mounting evidence recognizes the beneficial effects of lifestyle modifications, the clinical management of PCOS is not sufficiently focused on long-term maintenance of both exercise and dietary interventions and on further aspects of this syndrome (i.e. psychological status). Taking into consideration the patients' young age and the devastating effects of PCOS on hormonal and metabolic pattern, this complex and multifaceted disease requires a comprehensive approach in order to achieve concrete beneficial effects for PCOS patients. Multidisciplinary programs, including dietary and educational counseling, exercise training, stress management and psychosocial support, might represent the gold standard for adequate reduction of cardiovascular risk in young women with PCOS.

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