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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2008 February;60(1):39-51

language: English

Metabolic and cardiovascular consequences of polycystic ovary syndrome

Orio F. 1, 2, Vuolo L. 2, Palomba S. 3, Lombardi G. 2, Colao A. 2

1 Department of Endocrinology, Parthenope University, Naples, Italy
2 Department of Molecular and Clinical Endocrinology, Federico II University, Naples, Italy
3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro, Italy


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder affecting 5-10% of reproductive aged women, about 1 out of 15 women worldwide. Traditionally it was considered as a reproductive disorder showing hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation and infertility; it is now well accepted that PCOS represents a “multifaceted” syndrome with substantial metabolic and cardiovascular long term consequences. Several PCOS women present abdominal adiposity (visceral fat) with a level of peripheral insulin resistance (IR), similar to that present in women with type 2 diabetes, in association with an increased incidence of impaired glucose tolerance. Several cardiovascular risk factors are often related to metabolic alterations, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, low grade chronic inflammation, that are present even at early age in PCOS women. Pathogenetic mechanisms of these impairments are not completely clarified yet, but IR appears to play a critical role, such as the key factor linking hypertension, glucose intolerance, obesity, lipid abnormalities and coronary artery disease. In conclusion, although increased incidence of metabolic abnormalities and metabolic disease like type 2 diabetes, and several cardiovascular abnormalities have been widely demonstrated in PCOS women, larger and multicenter trials of long term cardiovascular outcomes are required to better define the incidence of cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular disease in PCOS.

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