Diabetic women under 60 have a greater risk for heart disease

A recent study from Johns Hopkins University reveals that young and middle-age women with diabetes have a much greater risk for coronary artery disease than medical experts previously thought.

The results contradict the idea that, in general, women under 60 are less likely to have heart disease than men of the same age. For diabetic women, it seems, the risk increases four-fold, which puts them in similar risk territory as their male counterparts.

Gender differences

Rita Rastogi Kalyani, M.D., M.H.S., endocrinologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead study author, said the study is one of the first to focus on gender differences in coronary artery disease among younger and middle-age people with diabetes.

The research showed that, while men tend to have a greater risk for heart disease in general, diabetes doesn't seem to effect this risk the way it does for women.

"Our findings suggest that we need to work harder to prevent heart disease in women under 60 who have diabetes," Kalyani said. "This study tells us that women of any age who have diabetes are at a high risk for coronary artery disease."

The study included data on more than 10,000 participants from three studies: the GeneSTAR Research Program, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III.

Other risk factors

Curiously, the study found that other risk factors for heart disease – like obesity, high blood pressure or smoking – weren't related to the diabetes-heart disease connection in women.

Kalyani and her team said that hormonal and genetic factors might be to blame for the increased risk, but that adherence to heart-healthy behaviors might also play a role.

"Compliance and treatment of cardiovascular treatments between genders are also possible but need to be further investigated," a press release on the study stated.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

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