diabetes and heart disease
May 24, 2014

Heart Disease More Likely In Diabetic Women Than In Diabetic Men

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Women with type 2 diabetes are far more likely to develop heart disease than their male counterparts, according to new research appearing in the latest edition of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes journal Diabetologia.

In what Rebecca Smith of The Telegraph called “the largest study of its kind,” an international team of researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of roughly 850,000 patients and found that women with diabetes were 44 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease than men with the same condition.

The researchers also reported that diabetic women were also 25 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than males dealing with the condition, added Smith, who serves as the medical editor for the UK newspaper. The findings are based on nearly five decades worth of data (from 1966 to 2011) and found that the trends held true independent of gender-related differences in the levels of other major cardiovascular risk factors.

The analysis was conducted by Prof. Rachel Huxley of the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health, Dr. Sanne Peters of the University of Cambridge, and Prof. Mark Woodward of the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, and looked at 64 studies involving 28,203 incidents of coronary heart disease.

The authors discovered that women with diabetes were nearly three times more like to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) than females without diabetes. Men with diabetes were found to be only twice as likely to develop the condition as non-diabetic males. The findings support previous research that reported finding a 46 percent increased risk of death from heart disease in women with diabetes compared to diabetic men, the noted.

In a statement, the authors explained that it is “conceivable… that the diabetes-related excess risk of CHD in women may be due to a combination of both a greater deterioration in cardiovascular risk factor levels and a chronically elevated cardiovascular risk profile in the prediabetic state, driven by greater levels of adiposity in women compared with men.”

If verified, the findings indicate that implementing gender-specific diabetes intervention methods – such as increased screening for prediabetes in women, and more rigorous follow-up procedures for at-risk female patients – could substantially improve heart disease risk prevention. While doctors may have an easier time recognizing early CHD symptoms in men, the authors note that greater awareness of those symptoms could improve clinical outcomes in both men and women, as well as in both diabetics and non-diabetics.

“Diabetes is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease for both men and women, but the links between the two are complex,” Doireann Maddock of the British Heart Foundation told Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail.

“That’s why more research is needed to understand why woman with diabetes were found to be at greater risk,” she added. “Regardless of whether you are male or female, if you have diabetes, it’s vitally important you control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight to help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.”