In one of the largest review studies of its kind, involving over 850,000 people, it was revealed that women with diabetes are 44% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than men.
The research was led by Professor Rachel Huxley, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia; Dr Sanne Peters, University of Cambridge, UK, and University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Professor Mark Woodward, George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia.
The data analyzed consisted of 50 years of research from 1966-2011 and includes 64 studies, 858,507 people and 28,203 incidents of coronary heart disease events. The results reflect that women with diabetes were 3 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.
The sex difference in the disease was attributed to a difference in available medical treatment and difference in how the disease is expressed in women. The research authors speculate that women may have to metabolically deteriorate further than men to become diabetic, so they are at a worse starting point even before treatment begins. In a pre-diabetic state where glucose tolerance may already be impaired but does not meet all diagnostic criteria of diabetes, risk factor levels are more elevated in women than in men, who exhibit a a higher body mass index as one of the major contributing risk factors.
The study authors recommend increases screening for pre-diabetes, and a more stringent follow up of women at high risk for diabetes.
Sanne A. E. Peters et al. Diabetes as risk factor for incident coronary heart disease in women compared with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 64 cohorts including 858,507 individuals and 28,203 coronary events. Diabetologia, May 2014 DOI: 10.1007/s00125-014-3260-6