Men Who Treat Their Diabetes With Insulin Face Higher Risk Of Heart Disease
March 27, 2012

Men Who Treat Their Diabetes With Insulin Face Higher Risk Of Heart Disease

Researchers at Brigham and Women´s Hospital (BWH) have conducted a study showing a link between diabetes and heart risks in men. According to the study, men who used insulin to treat their Type 2 diabetes and who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were at a higher risk for major cardiovascular events such as death, heart attack or stroke than those men who had a history of CVD.

The BWH team presented their findings at the American College of Cardiology 2012 Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.

The scientists used data from the global REACH registry to evaluate the risk of diabetes on cardiovascular events in both men and women. The estimated risk was separated by gender and were independent of age, ethnicity, and other risk factors.

Of the 64,000 REACH patients eligible for the study, those patients with diabetes treated with diet, oral medications, or insulin were at a larger risk of CVD.

These studies found men with Type 2 diabetes treated with insulin and without prior CVD faced a higher risk. The risk for these men grew at an accelerated rate compared to women in the same group.

Men who had diabetes and were taking insulin faced a 16% rate of CVD over four years. Men who are already at risk for CVD and who are not being treated for diabetes with insulin were only at a 13% risk rate over four years. This research shows women in the same groups (those with prior CVD and no diabetes versus those with no prior CVD and diabetes) were  much less likely to experience a cardiovascular event over a four-year span.

According to a press release announcing these results, the scientists from BWH found men who treated their diabetes with insulin were 70% more likely to experience a cardiovascular event than men who already have CVD. These findings are shocking to doctors and scientists, who also noted these men faced a 40% greater chance of CVD than their female counterparts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, those lower risk patients (those with diabetes not taking insulin) and very high risk patients (those with both diabetes and CVD) had no apparent difference between gender.

Scientists are also troubled by the amount of patients currently treating their diabetes with insulin treatments.

“These findings suggest that both men and women with diabetes with severe insulin resistance (those patients requiring insulin) are at high risk for cardiovascular events, as high risk as patients who already have established cardiovascular disease,” said Jacob Udell, MD, Cardiovascular Division, BWH Department of Medicine, and lead study investigator. “Given that the number of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes requiring insulin continues to increase, these patients require diligent cardiovascular risk factor management to potentially avoid a first cardiovascular event.”

This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Canadian Foundation for Women´s Health, Sanofi-Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Waksman Foundation (Tokyo), and the World Heart Federation.