Polycystic ovary syndrome: a "risk-enhancing" factor for cardiovascular disease

Fertil Steril. 2022 May;117(5):924-935. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2022.03.009.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder among women of reproductive age and is hallmarked by hyperandrogenism, oligo-ovulation, and polycystic ovarian morphology. Polycystic ovary syndrome, particularly the hyperandrogenism phenotype, is associated with several cardiometabolic abnormalities, including obesity, dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Many, but not all, studies have suggested that PCOS is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease and stroke, independent of body mass index and traditional risk factors. Interpretation of the data from these observational studies is limited by the varying definitions and ascertainment of PCOS and CVD across studies. Recent Mendelian randomization studies have challenged the causality of PCOS with coronary heart disease and stroke. Future longitudinal studies with clearly defined PCOS criteria and newer genetic methodologies may help to determine association and causality. Nevertheless, CVD risk screening remains critical in this patient population, as improvements in metabolic profile and reduction in CVD risk are achievable with a combination of lifestyle management and pharmacotherapy. Statin therapy should be implemented in women with PCOS who have elevated atherosclerotic CVD risk. If CVD risk is uncertain, measurement of subclinical atherosclerosis (carotid plaque or coronary artery calcium) may be a useful tool to guide shared decision-making about initiation of statin therapy. Other medications, such as metformin and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, also may be useful in reducing CVD risk in insulin-resistant populations. Additional research is needed to determine the best pathways to mitigate PCOS-associated CVD risk.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; polycystic ovary syndrome; prevention; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors*
  • Hyperandrogenism* / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome* / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke* / complications


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors