The Connection Between PCOS and Heart Disease

There is a known link between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and heart disease, especially among premenopausal women. If you have PCOS, it's important to know the medical and lifestyle risk factors that lead to heart disease so you can lower your risk of developing it. Having both conditions can interfere with your quality of life and cause life-threatening complications.

This article discusses the connection between PCOS and heart disease, including risk factors and how to reduce your risk.

Woman having her blood pressure tested
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Cardiovascular Risk Factors in PCOS

Metabolic syndrome is associated with PCOS and it is one of the contributors to the increased rate of cardiovascular disease among people who have PCOS. Cardiovascular disease is a disease of the blood vessels in the heart—it can lead to heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.

Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by excess body fat around the waist (abdominal obesity), hypertension (high blood pressure), insulin resistance, high tryglyceride leverls (fat in the blood), and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Most people who have metabolic syndrome have elevated triglycerides, low levels of heart-healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and high levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.


Hypertension is a silent condition, which is why many people don’t even know if they have it.

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the blood moving through the blood vessels. When it's too high, it is an indication that the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood to the body. This can be caused by atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the blood vessel walls.

High blood pressure can be idiopathic (without a known cause), and lifestyle factors such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to hypertension. It can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication.

Abnormal Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is made in our own bodies and influenced by what we eat every day. Having PCOS can put you at risk for elevated cholesterol and elevated triglyceride levels and low levels of HDL.

Unhealthy cholesterol levels contribute to atherosclerosis.


Atherosclerosis is the build-up of hard, fatty plaques in the arteries. Hypertension, diabetes, and unhealthy cholesterol levels all contribute to atherosclerosis. The condition can damage the blood vessels and impede normal blood flow throughout the body. It can also lead to blood clots.

Atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries, which are the arteries that supply the heart muscle, can cause heart attacks and heart failure. Atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries or the arteries in the brain can lead to strokes.

High blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol, abdominal obesity, and atherosclerosis are all features of metabolic syndrome, and they all contribute to each other.

Reducing the Risk

If you have PCOS, it's important for you to know that you could be at an increased risk of developing heart disease at an early age. So what can you do to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease when you have PCOS? The first step is to have your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checked routinely and to talk to your doctor about your risk factors.

Things you can do:

  • Stop smoking if you smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
  • Avoid excess saturated fat in your diet, even if you are at a healthy weight.
  • Avoid excess salt in your diet.

Sources of saturated fat typically include animal products such as red meat, butter, and processed meats (which are also high in salt). Replace saturated fat with healthier unsaturated sources of fat such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which contain fiber and antioxidants, can help you to lower your blood pressure and avoid gaining excess weight.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ramezani Tehrani F, Amiri M, Behboudi-Gandevani S, Bidhendi-Yarandi R, Carmina E. Cardiovascular events among reproductive and menopausal age women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2020 Jan;36(1):12-23. doi:10.1080/09513590.2019.1650337

  2. Berni TR, Morgan CL, Rees DA. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have an increased risk of major cardiovascular events: A population study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Aug 18;106(9):e3369-e3380. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgab392

  3. Zhao X, Feng X, Zhao X, Jiang Y, Li X, Niu J, Meng X, Wu J, Xu G, Hou L, Wang Y. How to screen and prevent metabolic syndrome in patients of PCOS early: Implications from metabolomics. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021 Jun 2;12:659268. doi:10.3389/fendo.2021.659268

Additional Reading

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."