New research suggests that, for women at least, having one serious medical condition could easily lead to another one. A study one physician calls “profound” has concluded that women with diabetes are 50 percent more likely then diabetic men to develop heart disease.
As those in Columbia with diabetes know, the condition can be managed, but it still carries the risk of serious side effects. Blindness, nerve damage and amputation are potential complications. So are heart disease and stroke. Some patients must stop working and utilize Social Security Disability benefits.
The study examined data for 850,000 people over 45 years, making it very comprehensive as far as sample size and time period. It was conducted in Australia, so it may not account for ethnic groups that are not common there.
An endocrinologist not involved in the study found the conclusion “pretty profound.” It could be a signal that women with diabetes need more aggressive medical care, such as screenings for heart disease, than men do. This would be especially important as they age and their risk factors for heart trouble and low blood sugar change.
Unfortunately, the study does not reach any conclusions about why diabetic women are seemingly at such greater risk of heart disease. The endocrinologist said things we already know about women’s health could account for the disparity. Women who develop diabetes tend to do so because of obesity or weight gain. Also, it tends to be more difficult to diagnose women with heart disease, because their symptoms are atypical.
With diabetes a growing issue in the U.S., this study is a good reminder of how important it is to take care of yourself, if you are living with the condition.
Source: WZZM-TV, “Diabetic women 50% more likely to get heart disease,” June 10, 2014