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Painful Periods and PCOS Might Be Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Issues

Two preliminary studies, recently presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2023, suggest that both dysmenorrhea and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in some women.

The first study checked a link between dysmenorrhea and ischemic heart disease (IHD). The researchers used electronic health records of more than 55,000 women aged under 50 years, of whom just over 30,000 had received a dysmenorrhea diagnosis. They looked at the diagnosis of heart disease overall and of specific types of heart disease. The analysis has shown that dysmenorrhea was likely to be a risk factor for early IHD, particularly for angina, and chronic IHD.

The second study included health data for 170,000 teenage girls between 2012 and 2018, where the researchers examined the blood pressure, height, and weight taken at one initial well-child visit, and any PCOS diagnoses within a year of those visits.

Lead author of the first study, Dr. Eugenia Alleva, postdoctoral research fellow at the Windreich Department of Artificial Intelligence and Human Health, Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Health at Mount Sinai, New York, says: “Our running hypothesis is that a combination of increased stress susceptibility, autonomic nervous system changes and increase in inflammatory mediators — all of which are processes related to dysmenorrhea — might explain our finding. However, we are only starting to scrape the surface, and more research is needed.”

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