Having Type II diabetes increases the chance of getting coronary heart diseasean effect seen more strongly in women than in men. Researchers in Finland tried to find out why.
What the researchers wanted to know: Why does Type II diabetes increase women's risk of coronary heart disease more than men's?
What they did: The researchers picked 1,059 people with Type II diabetes who were born in and still lived in the area near Turku University Hospital in western Finland. They also found 1,373 people without diabetes. These people were followed from the early 1980s through 1995.
What they found: The researchers still don't know why being female is bad for your heart. As expected, diabetes increased the risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease much more for women than for men. Women have a lower risk of coronary heart disease to start with, but diabetes almost completely erased that advantage. When the study started, diabetic women were more likely to be obese and to have high blood pressure, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and high triglycerides. High blood pressure and the combination of low HDL and high triglycerides seemed to contribute more to heart risk in women than in menwhich could help explain why diabetes increased the risk of heart disease more for women than for men. It's also possible that diabetes changes the way estrogen may protect against heart disease.
What the study means to you: It appears that obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, the risk factors related to insulin resistance, are more important in women than in men. The researchers say this means women and their doctors should take early action to control those risk factors.
Caveats: The interaction between diabetes and heart disease is complicated, and no one study should be taken as the final word.
Find out more: The American Heart Association has information on diabetes.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a short explanation of coronary heart disease.
Read the article: Juutilainen, A. et al. "Gender Difference in the Impact of Type 2 Diabetes on Coronary Heart Disease Risk." Diabetes Care. Dec. 1, 2004, Vol. 27, No. 12, pp. 28982904.
Abstract online: http://care.diabetesjournals.org