Older women with PCOS-linked metabolic syndrome not only run a greater risk of heart problems but also have an increased chance of cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers.
Metabolic syndrome can be genetic but it is made worse by inactivity and obesity, especially fat around the stomach, said Dr. Kristine Yaffe at the University of California-San Francisco.
Dr. Yaffe and her colleagues looked at older women who had metabolic syndrome but no cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s at the study’s start. After four years, the team found that women with metabolic syndrome had a 20% risk of a performance drop on cognitive tests.
Women who had heart-damaging chronic inflammation, which is common in cases of PCOS, fared even worse: they had a 66% greater risk of suffering from cognitive problems associated with Alzheimer’s.
“Metabolic syndrome is probably bad for the brain, but there’s some relationship with inflammation that’s especially bad,” said Dr. Yaffe.
Fortunately, the symptoms of both PCOS and metabolic syndrome can be greatly improved at any age by lifestyle changes involving a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise to lose or better control weight. Women who are of healthy weight or even lean can also suffer from PCOS and metabolic syndrome.