A recent study detected that woman who have been diagnosed with diabetes are 44 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) than men who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
This systematic review and meta-analysis study completed on 850,000 people with diabetes used data collected from 50 years of historical documentation, from the year 1966 to 2011. The data included 64 studies, 858,507 people and 28,203 incident CHD events.
The study was conducted by Professor Rachel Huxley, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia; Dr. Sanne Peters, University of Cambridge, UK, and University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Professor Mark Woodward, George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia.
The study results show that women with diabetes were three times as likely to develop CHD than women who did not have diabetes while men with diabetes are twice as likely to develop CHD than men without diabetes.
This study, the largest of its kind backs up smaller analysis which includes fewer studies that resulted in showing a 46 percent increased risk of dying from CHD for diabetic women compared to men with diabetes. Upon reviewing another study completed, diabetic women has a stroke risk of 25 percent over diabetic men.
The authors of the study comment, “Taken together, these data provide convincing evidence that diabetes poses a greater relative risk for cardiovascular diseases in women than in men.”
As for why the risks different between genders is pretty simple. The authors suggest that in the past, women have been undertreated when it comes to the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Studies show this throughout history, starting at 1985 and earlier. It is believed that where diabetes is concerned, women may have to metabolically deteriorate further than men. This means women are already worse off upon their diagnosis. Pre-diabetes plays a huge role as well. Being at the pre-diabetic stage can cause impairment to the body but not so much so that that any diagnostic criteria of diabetes can be defined.
“It is conceivable, therefore, 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 pre-diabetic state, driven by greater levels of adiposity in women compared with men.
“If confirmed, the implementation of sex-specific interventions before diabetes becomes manifest — such as increased screening for pre-diabetes, especially in women, combined with more stringent follow-up of women at high risk for diabetes, such as women with a history of gestational diabetes — could have a substantial impact on the prevention of CHD.” The authors said.
Regarding the role of doctors, the authors noted: “Physicians may be more likely to recognize the early symptoms of CHD in men than women because of men’s higher absolute risk, and thus sex differences in medication use and risk factor control may still exist. Greater awareness of early symptoms of CHD in women and sex-specific therapeutic risk factor management, irrespective of the presence of diabetes, will be the best way to improve clinical outcomes in both women and men.”
The authors finished by stating: “Women with diabetes have a 44% greater risk of incident CHD compared with men with diabetes. Further studies are warranted to determine the actual mechanisms responsible for the difference in diabetes-related coronary risk between the sexes.”