Women with type 2 diabetes at higher risk of heart disease than men, new study finds

by Barbara Hewitt on May 26, 2014

Diabetes is more of a risk to heart health for women than men with the risk of coronary disease between 40% and 50% greater for women, a new analysis of current research has found.

The results from a team at the University of Queensland in Australia support findings from an earlier analysis that found that women with diabetes have a nearly 50% increased risk of death from heart disease compared to men with diabetes.

Woman eating breakfast

Women with diabetes have a nearly 50% increased risk of death from heart disease compared to diabetic men

This difference could stem from the fact that men develop full blown type 2 diabetes earlier than women and at a lower weight, according to study co-author Rachel Huxley, director of the Queensland Clinical Trials and Biostatistics Centre at the University.

Because of this, men receive aggressive treatment sooner for both their diabetes and potential heart health risks, such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels.

Meanwhile, women may have to deteriorate further than men before full blown type 2 diabetes develops, so they’re at a worse starting point even before treatment begins.

The study authors cited data that show the body mass index (BMI) of women at the time of their diabetes diagnosis tends to be nearly two units higher than it is in men. BMI is a score that measures if a person is considered overweight in relation to their height.

They reviewed health data on more than 850,000 people gathered from 64 different studies conducted between 1966 and 2013. Nearly 30,000 people in the studies had some form of heart disease, the study authors found.

When the researchers looked at the risk by gender, they discovered that diabetic women were nearly three times more likely to develop heart disease than women without diabetes. For men                     with diabetes, the risk of heart disease was slightly more than twice as likely compared to men without diabetes.

Although the study found an association between women with diabetes and heart disease, it doesn’t prove a cause and effect relationship between diabetes, gender and heart disease.

The study authors recommend increased screening for pre-diabetes in women, as well as more stringent follow up of women at high risk of diabetes.

Heart disease has previously been shown to be eight times more common in women with diabetes than those without it. Treatment costs for diabetes and its attendant complications, such as heart disease, are now greatly exceeding the costs of diabetes education, insulin, other diabetes medications and blood glucose testing supplies.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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