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Diabetic Women more likely to Suffer from Heart Problems than Men

Update Date: May 23, 2014 10:57 AM EDT

According to a new study, type 2 diabetes affects men and women differently. Even though the disease is caused by the same risk factors for both genders, such as weight, researchers are reporting that diabetic women have a greater risk of experiencing heart problems than diabetic men.

"Taken together, these data provide convincing evidence that diabetes poses a greater relative risk for cardiovascular diseases in women than in men," the authors wrote according to the press release.

In this study, the research team reviewed medical data on 858,507 participants taken from 64 studies that were conducted between 1966 and 2011. Within the roughly 50 years of data, there were 28,203 coronary heart disease (CHD) events. The researchers calculated that diabetic women were nearly three times more likely than healthy women to develop CHD. For men, having diabetes increased CHD risk by two times. When the team compared genders, they found that diabetic women were 44 percent more likely to have CHD than diabetic men.

The researchers theorized that the difference in heart health could be caused by the time of diagnosis and the type of treatments offered to both sexes. Men generally develop type 2 diabetes at an earlier age and lower weight in comparison to women. Due to these two factors, men tend to receive more aggressive treatments earlier on, which could help protect heart health. Women, on the other hand, might already be suffering from deteriorated heart health by the time they get diagnosed with full-blown type 2 diabetes.

"It is not so much that women are not being treated, it is more that they are further along when they are diagnosed," Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, medical director for Women's Health and Community Relations at Integris Health in Oklahoma City, and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, commented reported by Philly.

The researchers stressed the importance of addressing these differences between men and women. By acknowledging how diseases manifest in men and women, doctors can treat their patients more effectively, reducing the risk of other health complications.

"The days of lumping men and women together are coming to an end," Dr. Tara Narula, associate director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. said. "We need to see women as unique entities regarding their risk factors and, if we recognize there's this gender differential, we need to be more aggressive in screening and treating women for diabetes or heart disease."

The study is available for download in the journal, Diabetologia.

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