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Heart Disease Increases in Women with Diabetes

Women with diabetes have a greater risk of heart disease than men….

Patients with diabetes also frequently have problems with their heart health. High blood glucose levels can cause increases of fatty materials on the insides of the blood vessel walls. This is also known as atherosclerosis. In a recent study, women under the age of 60 who have diabetes were found to have a greater risk for heart disease.

An endocrinologist, Rita Rastogi Kalyani, and other professors looked at 3 studies that consisted of more than 11,000 men and women who were under the age of 60 and had coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD in patients were in terms of person-years. Person-years is the product of the number of years a population has been affected by a condition and the number of members of a population who have been affected by that condition.

CAD events rate between men and women who had diabetes were similar. In the three studies, the rates of CAD in women with diabetes were 17.65, 7.34 and 2.37 per 1,000 person-years. In men with diabetes it was 12.86, 9.71, 1.83 per 1,000 person-years. In patients without diabetes, CAD rates were lower in women than men. It was also found that women with diabetes had a four to five times higher CAD rate compared to women without diabetes.

Dr. Kalyani believes that genetic or hormonal reasons affects women differently than men. Heart healthy lifestyle behaviors may be different among men and women. Also, men in this age group is already at a high risk of heart disease and with the presence of diabetes, it does not increase the risk of heart disease substantially.

Carolyn Dean, Medical Advisory Board Member of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association says there is a connection between diabetes and heart disease. Low magnesium blood levels is a sign of diabetes and that the heart has the highest concentration of magnesium in the body. So it is important that women adopt a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.

Practice Pearls:

  • Low magnesium blood levels is a sign of diabetes
  • Women under the age of 60 with diabetes have a greater risk for heart disease than men
  • Women with diabetes have a four to five times higher CAD rates than women without diabetes

Diabetes Care Nov, 2013