Young and middle-aged women with type 2 diabetes are at much greater risk of coronary artery disease than previously believed. This is according to a Johns Hopkins study published last week in the journal Diabetes Care. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has long added diabetes to the risk factors for heart disease.
"This study tells us that women of any age who have diabetes are at a high risk for coronary artery disease,” says Rita Rastogi Kalyani, M.D., M.H.S., endocrinologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead study author.
While men generally have a higher incidence of heart disease than women, the study found that diabetes had little or no effect on men's heart disease risk. Kalyani said the new study is believed to be the first to focus specifically on gender differences in coronary artery disease among younger and middle-aged people with diabetes.
The CDC has included diabetes as a risk factor for heart disease. Other risk factors are: alcohol use, high cholesterol, diet, heredity, high blood pressure, obesity, inactivity and tobacco use.
Kalyani and her colleagues offer several possible explanations for the increased risk. There may be distinct genetic and hormonal factors related to the development of heart disease by gender. Heredity is listed as a risk factor by the CDC. Differences in adherence to heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors, compliance and treatment of cardiovascular treatments between genders are also possible but need to be further investigated, says Kalyani.
Heart disease, according to the CDC, is the leading cause of death among both men and women. You can reduce your risk of heart disease. Control your blood pressure and diabetes. Quit smoking and limit alcohol to one drink a day. Lower your stress and eat healthy.
Local hospitals - Lancaster General Hospital, Lancaster Regional Hospital and Heart of Lancaster Hospital - all offer support groups for diabetics as well as other helpful resources.
This article is not intended to replace the medical advice of your physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetes, make an appointment with your physician.
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