When it comes to cholesterol and diabetes, gender-based treatments might be best

Men and women have different risks when it comes to the cardiovascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes, a Queen's University professor argues based on new research.

Women with high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are less likely to achieve the goal of lowering their "bad" LDL cholesterol than men who have both health conditions.

Dr. Pendar Farahani, from the university's departments of medicine and public health services, says the findings indicate a need for gender-based evaluation and treatment when it comes to cardiovascular risk factors in type-2 diabetes patients.

"We need further study into the gender disparities to tailor drug interventions and we need to increase the inclusion of women in clinical trials," Farahani said in a statement.

Women have more side effects, poorer adherence with medication

The study found that women tend to have poorer adherence when taking cholesterol medication, which may be due to the fact that they experience more side effects than men, like muscle pain.

Only 64 percent of women in Farahani's study lowered their LDL cholesterol to recommended levels, compared with 81 percent of men.

Dr. Farahani did find that access to medication wasn't a factor that influenced the gender differences.

Despite the reasons, understanding that women may need to be evaluated and treated differently than men is the key takeaway, he said.

"The finding that women were not able to lower their so-called bad cholesterol sufficiently is a concern," Farahani concluded. "Women with diabetes have a considerably higher rate of cardiovascular-related illness and death than men with diabetes. This pattern is likely related to poorer control of cardiovascular risk factors."

A study released in 2012 from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that women who take cholesterol-lowering stains may be more at risk for developing diabetes - further emphasizing that lifestyle changes are important for both lowering diabetes risk, managing diabetes, and lowering cardiovascular risk in general.

Results of the study were presented in the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society meeting in Chicago.

Source: Queen's University

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