22 July 2019

Heart risk sharply higher for women with diabetes

Diabetes Research Women

A woman with type 1 diabetes has a 47% greater risk of heart failure than a man does, a global study of more than 12 million people has found.

Reporting in the European diabetes journal, Diabetologia, researchers from the George Institute for Global Health said the risk was also higher for women with type 2 diabetes, although this was only 9% greater.

“It is already known that diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing heart failure, but what our study shows for the first time is that women are at far greater risk – for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes,” lead author and research fellow Dr Toshiaki Ohkuma, from The George Institute, said.

Dr Ohkuma said the findings highlighted the importance of intensive prevention and treatment of diabetes in women.

“Further research is required to understand the mechanisms underpinning the excess risk of heart failure conferred by diabetes (particularly type 1) in women and to reduce the burden associated with diabetes in both sexes.”

Study co-author Dr Sanne Peters suggested under-treatment of diabetic women could be one reason behind the disparity between the sexes.

“Women were reported to have two years’ longer duration of prediabetes than men and this increased duration may be associated with greater excess risk of heart failure in women,” Dr Peters said.

“Some major concerns are that women are also being undertreated for diabetes, are not taking the same levels of medications as men and are less likely to receive intensive care.”

Other heart disease factors, such as blood pressure levels, which are reported to be higher for women with diabetes than for men, may also play a role in the increased risk.

And because men with diabetes have a shorter life expectancy than women, they may be less likely to develop heart failure.

The study was carried out across 10 nations, including Australia, the United States, the UK, Canada, Japan and China.

According to Diabetes Australia there are more than 119,000 Australians living with type 1 diabetes and 1.3 million with type 2.