Our Scholars’ stories: Cardozo explores the link between PCOS and cardiovascular disease

Cardozo explores the link between PCOS and cardiovascular disease

Licy Yanes Cardozo, M.D., associate professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is delving into the interesting connection between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and cardiovascular disease.

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age, characterized by high levels of male hormones and irregular menstrual cycles.

While the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown, it’s evident that women with this condition face an increased risk of cardiovascular issues. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women in the U.S.

Notably, Black/African American women with PCOS are at an even higher risk of cardiovascular complications, though the reasons for this racial disparity are not fully understood. Social determinants of health (SDoH), such as education, employment, income, and food security, could play a significant role.

Cardozo’s why

“Women’s health suffers from numerous inequities, especially in the South,” Cardozo says. “As a woman and a mother of two girls, I am passionate about using my voice, knowledge, and energy to improve cardiovascular health among women.”

Moreover, Cardozo states: “cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death among women, thereby this is a key area of research. I hope that the findings of our research make a positive impact on the community, filling the multiple gaps that exist in our understanding of cardiovascular diseases in women, especially among African Americans.”

The project plan

Cardozo’s team aims to investigate how SDoH contribute to cardiovascular risk factors in Black/African American women compared to white women with PCOS, and how this correlates with hormonal imbalances and dysregulation of factors affecting blood pressure and metabolism.

As a physician-scientist, Cardozo says she seeks to determine whether SDoH are responsible for the elevated cardiovascular risk observed in Black/African American women with PCOS.

Her study will utilize questionnaires to assess SDoH, analyze blood samples related to cardiovascular disease, and examine obesity as a contributing factor.

The findings from this research endeavor are expected to provide deeper insights into effective treatments for managing cardiovascular disease in Black women with PCOS.

Cardozo anticipates that this study will lead to improved strategies for addressing cardiovascular issues in women, particularly among those who face disproportionate risks, such as Black/African American women with PCOS.