PCOS Articles - Your Blood System at Risk

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10-05-2004, 04:18 AM
As you probably know, women with PCOS have a higher risk of heart disease. A recent study on platelet aggregation reminded us of this problem. In simple terms, platelet aggregation means blood clots. Platelets are small cell-like particles that individually float around in your blood. When you cut yourself, chemicals are released to signal the platelets to start sticking to each other at the site of injury. The resulting blood clot stops the bleeding.

Unfortunately, some people tend to form blood clots when there is no bleeding to be stopped. The clots (platelet aggregations) float around until they get stuck somewhere in a blood vessel, thus blocking the supply of blood to some of your tissues. Platelets will also attach themselves to the walls of your blood vessels, where they cause damage and other problems.

In a study of 50 lean women with PCOS compared to a control group, it was found that the PCOS women had a much stronger tendency toward platelet aggregation. It appeared that insulin resistance was the primary factor.

Other studies have suggested that PCOS women frequently have elevated markers for inflammation, such as elevated C-reactive protein. Most doctors now agree that heart disease is an inflammatory condition.

Since you're likely to have more inflammation and a greater tendency for blood clots, you're definitely at risk for cardiovascular problems.

A good first step in lowering your risk is to reduce platelet aggregation. You can do this with regular moderate exercise, and a healthy diet consisting of more fish, fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed foods as much as you can. Especially avoid trans fats (check labels), any rancid oil, or fried or deep-fried foods. Be moderate with fatty red meats. Fish oil, garlic, vitamin E, vitamin B6 are helpful supplements. A B-complex vitamin and/or antioxidant formula should be considered.

Breast cancer is not the #1 killer of women. Heart disease is. If you have PCOS and are just taking birth control pills and not doing anything else for your basic health, this is your wake-up call.

Source: Dereli, D et al, Platelet dysfunction in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome and association with insulin sensitivity, J Clin Endocrin Metab, 2003, 88(5):2263-2268