Generally, men are usually more than two times more likely to die from heart disease than women. However, women who have diabetes develop an equally high risk for a fatal heart problem as men, according to a recent study published in the European Heart Journal.
The study involved 74,914 people followed over 18 years, 2,100 of whom had diabetes. The researchers evaluated the deaths that occurred within that time period and found a stronger link between diabetes and heart-related deaths in women than in men. The authors theorize that diabetes may lead to more rapid build up of plague within the heart’s arteries along with other related problems in women than in men.
“Our results argue for more aggressive (heart disease) risk factor intervention in women with diabetes,” the scientists conclude.
An earlier report in 2004 from scientists at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center described in Cornell News concurs with the Norwegian study. “The risk of heart attack is 150 percent greater in women with diabetes than in women without diabetes, but only 50 percent greater in men with diabetes,” according to the article.
The article also notes that heart problems are more commonly undiagnosed in women versus men, causing delays in diagnosis and early treatment and an increase in complications, disability and premature death.
Dale, A. et al, 2008. “Diabetes Mellitus and Risk of Fatal Ischaemic Heart Disease by Gender: 18 Years Follow-up of 74,914 Individuals in the HUNT 1 Study,” Eur Heart Journal.
Dotson, B., 2004. “Women with Diabetes at High Risk for Cardiovascular Disease, Yet Prevention, Yet Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment Is Inadequate,” Cornell News.
American Heart Association, 2008. “Women, Heart Disease and Stroke” website.
“Women and Diabetes” Am Diabetes Association website.