Diabetes effects on the heart
When it comes to heart disease, women under age 60 are typically at lower risk than their male counterparts. However, a new study finds that this may not be the case for women with diabetes.
The Johns Hopkins University study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, analyzed 10,000 people with no family history of heart disease in three large medical surveys. Researchers found that women younger than 60 with diabetes are four times more likely to develop coronary artery disease than women without diabetes. This brings women with diabetes on par with men in regard to heart disease risk.
“Women in general have lower rates of heart disease than men,” says Dr. Jawaad Khokhar, endocrinologist at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “What this study shows is that diabetes equalizes the heart disease risk between men and women.”
In comparison, the study finds that diabetes does not have the same effect on men. Even men without diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease than women without diabetes.
To help prevent the development of heart disease, women with diabetes should manage modifiable risk factors by controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. “Particularly in the United States, obesity appears to be the major contributing factor to the development of Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Khokhar says. “Long-term, weight loss positively impacts major cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure, blood sugars and cholesterol.”
More research needs to be conducted as to why diabetes equalizes the heart disease risk between both genders. Researchers suggest that genetics or hormones may play a role in why women appear more sensitive to the serious effects of diabetes.
“Estrogen is thought to play a cardio-protective benefit in women, but this appears to be negated in the presence of diabetes,” Dr. Khokhar explains.
For more information on heart health and to take Advocate’s heart risk assessment, visit iHeartAdvocate.com.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.