Prevalence and predictors of coronary artery calcification in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Rose C. Christian, Daniel A. Dumesic, Thomas Behrenbeck, Ann L. Oberg, Patrick F. Sheedy, Lorraine A. Fitzpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

310 Scopus citations


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder of reproductive-aged women, is associated with multiple risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD), such as diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, visceral obesity, and hypertension. However, premature coronary atherosclerosis has not been demonstrated in PCOS women. Electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) noninvasively measures coronary artery calcium (CAC), a marker for coronary atherosclerosis. We measured CAC by EBCT in 30- to 45-yr-old premenopausal PCOS women and compared the results to CAC in 1) recruited normal ovulatory volunteers matched for age and weight to the PCOS cohort, and 2) community-dwelling women of similar age in an extant coronary calcium database. Healthy, community-dwelling, ovulatory controls (n = 71) were matched by age and body mass index (BMI) to PCOS women (n = 36). Women with diabetes or known CHD were excluded. Subjects underwent EBCT scanning, oral glucose tolerance testing, and CHD risk factor assessment. PCOS women had significantly higher levels of serum total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol and testosterone levels than matched controls. PCOS and control women were obese and had a greater mean BMI than community-dwelling women (33 kg/m2 for PCOS vs. 31 kg/m2 for control; P < 0.001). CAC was more prevalent in PCOS women (39%) than in matched controls (21%; odds ratio, 2.4;P = 0.05) or community-dwelling women (9.9%; odds ratio, 5.9; P < 0.001). BMI, waist circumference, and total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels predicted CAC prevalence after adjustment for BMI. CAC is more prevalent in PCOS women than in obese or nonobese women of similar age. PCOS women are at increased risk for atherosclerosis and should be targeted for primary prevention of CHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2562-2568
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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