What is the Connection Between PCOS and Heart Disease?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most serious hormonal disorders a woman can face. It wreaks havoc in a number of areas, ranging from infertility and skin conditions to Diabetes and the cluster of cardiovascular disorders known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X. (See also Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Heart Disease.)
PCOS is characterized by high levels of excess insulin usually caused by Insulin Resistance, a condition that prevents the efficient conversion of food into energy because it renders the cell walls insensitive to insulin. Insulin acts as “a key in a lock,” allowing glucose, or blood sugar, to pass through the cell wall and be converted to energy. Insulin insensitivity means glucose bounces of the cell wall instead of passing through the insulin “door,” while excess insulin enters the bloodstream and raises levels of the hormone to an unhealthy degree.
When this happens, glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing elevated levels that are sent to the liver. Once there, the glucose is converted into fat and stored via the bloodstream throughout the body in a process that can lead to weight gain and obesity. Free-floating insulin can damage the lining of the arteries. This process can contribute to atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by a dangerous build-up of plaque on the artery walls and a factor that sharply increases the risk of damage to the cardiovascular system, wich can lead to heart disease and stroke.
The excess insulin levels associated with PCOS can also stimulate the ovaries to secrete abnormally high levels of testosterone. This male hormone can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg each month, thus causing infertility.
PCOS sufferers are also at greater risk of developing Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes, which in turn, increase their chances of developing heart disease. Research estimates these factors can cause up to a seven-fold increase in risk for heart attack for women with PCOS, compared to those without it. (See also Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Heart Disease.)
Obesity and PCOS
The high testosterone levels that come with this condition can also contribute to excessive hair growth in women, as well as male pattern baldness and skin conditions like acne and brown patches. Plus, PCOS sufferers are at greater risk of developing Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy, as well as liver, breast, and colon cancer.
In a study by the Royal Free and University Medical School in London, there was no significant difference in age or in total cholesterol, HDL (“good”), or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol among the groups taking part. However, compared to women with normal ovaries, those with PCOS had significantly higher blood pressure and insulin levels, as well as more weight.
Obesity is a major underlying cause of PCOS. As your weight increases, stressors build up on your entire cardiovascular system, with the lungs and heart, for example, having to work harder to distribute an adequate amount of freshly-oxygenated blood throughout the body. In addition to the increase in triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol, there is a lowering of HDL “good” cholesterol, which, in combination, increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Ways to reduce heart disease risk include balancing glucose and insulin levels in the bloodstream, losing weight, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowering blood pressure to normal levels. To lose weight, eat a balanced nutritional diet, which includes low-cholesterol food and exercise regularly.
Click here to read how the Insulite PCOS System can help to reverse the symptoms of Insulin Resistance and PCOS.
Combating Heart Disease
Nearly all of us are born with immaculate arteries. But as soon as we learn how to feed ourselves, our arteries begin to go from clean to clogged. Taking better care of our cardiovascular system by watching our weight via a balanced diet and regular exercise goes a long way toward countering this effect. Adopting a healthier lifestyle will add years to your life as well as improving its quality.
If you pass this information on to your children, they, too, can take steps to avoid premature heart disease.
It isn’t just adult men who are especially prone to heart disease. Even pre-menopausal women, who were long considered resistant to “heart trouble,” should learn to reduce the risk factors that can cause damage to their cardiovascular system later in life.
When it comes to heart disease, there are factors that you can’t influence, like genetic vulnerability-we can’t choose our ancestors or alter our genes-and the aging process. But there are plenty of other areas where the effectiveness of taking preventive action is well documented by facts and figures.
Stopping smoking is a prime example. More than 400,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smokers are four times more likely to have heart attacks and develop cardiovascular diseases than non-smokers. Men have a slightly higher risk than women. On average, lifetime smokers have a 50 percent chance of dying from a smoking-related disease. But quitting can quickly begin to nullify the risks-it’s never too late to stop. One year after quitting, your risk of heart disease drops by 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Within 15 years a former smoker’s risk of dying from heart disease approaches that of a lifetime non-smoker.
Lowering your LDL “bad” cholesterol has enormous benefits. Doctors and nutritionists have a wealth of information about low-cholesterol diets. Almost everyone who has a heart attack or undergoes bypass surgery is now given a statin, a type of cholesterol-lowering agent, regardless of his or her cholesterol level. The statin drugs that reduce cholesterol also reduce the level of C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Switching to low-cholesterol food is highly advisable.
Controlling Your Blood Pressure and getting it to normal levels greatly reduces the risk of both stroke and heart attack by slowing down the formation of arterial plaque that narrows the blood vessels everywhere in the body-especially in the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and legs.
Managing Your Blood Sugar is vital to avoiding Pre-Diabetes, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. (See Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Heart Disease.) Although Type 2 Diabetes can be managed over a long life, almost 80 percent of Diabetics eventually die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
The Insulite PCOS System is not intended to be medical treatment, nor is information on this website intended to be a substitute for the advice or care of a health-care practitioner. The Insulite PCOS System is a combination of nutritional supplementation and lifestyle programs intended to help individuals better manage their health and wellbeing. Consult a health-care practitioner before beginning the Insulite PCOS System. Because of ongoing research, clinical experience, and the rapid accumulation of information relating to the subject matter discussed on this website, the website’s users are advised to carefully review and evaluate the information on this website and continue to expand and broaden their knowledge of new information as it becomes available on this website and elsewhere. The use or application of the information contained on this website is at the sole discretion and risk of the user.
Since June 2008, Insulite Laboratories and Insulite Health has supported more than 2.4 million women through the Insulite PCOS System, through this website, through emails providing information and support, through consultations with our Consulting & Advisory Team, through telephone conference calls, through online webinars, through published articles, and most recently, through social media community building and support efforts. Insulite Laboratories and Insulite Health are singularly dedicated to improving the lives of women with PCOS and conditions resulting from Insulin Resistance.