Diabetes associated with increased risk of stroke in women, not men

New research on diabetes and brain health reveals that women may be more likely to have a stroke if they have diabetes; however, the data didn't show the same association among men.

The study authors, from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, note that more women tend to die from stroke in developed countries than men. In the United States, for example, women accounted for about 60 percent of stroke deaths in 2010.

Sex differences associated with risk

For the study, researchers investigated how HbA1c levels were associated with stroke risk. In men, rising HbA1c levels weren't associated with a statistically significant increase for stroke risk. For women, however, higher HbA1c levels increased stroke risk dramatically.

"Several mechanisms could explain why diabetes has a greater adverse effect in women than in men," said first author Dr. Wenhui Zhao. "In the general population, higher numbers of strokes occurring among women than men is at least partly attributed to the longer life expectancy of women."

The researchers also said that lack of stroke risk in men could be due to the fact that men with higher HbA1c levels are more likely to die from coronary heart disease instead of having a stroke. Recent studies have also shown that men with diabetes are more likely to receive antihypertensive drugs, statins, or aspirin than women, Zhao noted.

Aging women most at risk

Stroke risk was substantially higher for women over 55, the study found, and women tend to become more severely ill following a stroke than men.

Helping older women manage glucose control and blood pressure is key in helping to reduce stroke risk in this population, Zhao concluded.

"Females with type 2 diabetes, especially postmenopausal females, are at high risk for stroke. More aggressive blood sugar treatments and better control of other risk factor levels in women with diabetes are likely to substantially reduce stroke in this subgroup."

Source: Diabetologia
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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