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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: What Risks Does It Pose for Aging Women?

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on September 6, 2016

The unique genetic makeup of elderly women makes them susceptible to a few conditions that do not affect senior men. One of these conditions is a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts around the edges. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care in Roseville, Rocklin, and Lincoln, discusses PCOS and the additional risks it poses for women over 65.

Cardiovascular Disease

According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, postmenopausal women with PCOS exhibit elevated levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP). The study determined higher CRP levels increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and it also found older women with PCOS are more likely to have an unfavorable lipid profile. Though the LDL cholesterol levels of women with PCOS were found to be similar to those without the condition, their HDL cholesterol levels were decreased and triglycerides were increased, which further raises the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes

According to a study in Diabetes, older women with PCOS develop diabetes at a rate nearly 7 times higher than women without PCOS. Women with PCOS are also more likely to develop diabetes faster and earlier than the general population. Lifestyle changes, medications, and early detection through regular testing can increase insulin sensitivity and prevent further complications. 

Obesity

The metabolic effects of PCOS often predispose women with the condition to rapid weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight. Nutrition counseling and education can help women with PCOS make positive changes to their eating habits, which can boost self-image and reduce their risk of various diseases. A diet of low-glycemic index foods can lower body fat and increase insulin sensitivity, and a high-protein diet has been shown to help women with PCOS reduce their waist circumference and glucose levels. Foods high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and lower CRP levels.

Low Self-Esteem and Negative Body Image

Lifelong battles with weight often leave women with PCOS with a distorted body image and low self-esteem. PCOS also exposes women to elevated androgen levels throughout their lives. High levels of androgens can result in hirsutism, which is characterized by excessive body or facial hair and can have a significantly negative effect on a woman’s self-image. 

To learn more about PCOS and other health concerns for senior women, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers are available around the clock to assist seniors with various daily tasks, and we also offer comprehensive stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care Roseville, CA, families trust. For more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 916.226.3737 today.

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