Over 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, with a new diagnosis being made every five minutes. Now research from the American Heart Association has linked diabetes to heart disease, with the risks being especially high for women.
We already know that people living with diabetes are two to four times more likely to experience heart disease, but gender has never been considered a contributing factor. Now the AHA has discovered that diabetic women are twice as likely to experience coronary heart disease, when compared to men.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is described as the narrowing of blood vessels and arteries, which supply oxygen to the heart. CHD and diabetes are often linked, due to contributing factors such as high blood pressure, higher cholesterol and weight management. Now gender is being examined as another possible factor.
“While we don’t fully understand how the inherent hormonal differences between men and women affect risk, we do know that some risk factors for heart disease… affect women differently”, explained the Dr Judith Regensteiner. “(Heart) disease may be more deadly for women with type 2 diabetes than it is for men”.
For this reason, the American Heart Association is advising women to be even more proactive about their health. Diabetic women should pay special attention to nutrition, take regular medication to lower cholesterol and blood pressure where applicable, and engage in frequent exercise.
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“To improve health equity in women and men with diabetes, we need to understand and improve both the biological reasons for the disparities, and also control cardiovascular risk factors equally “, said Dr Regensteiner. “This statement is a call for action to do the compelling research, that is so important for all people with diabetes”.
Are you or someone you know living with diabetes? How does it affect day-to-day life?