Women, diabetes, and heart disease

Heartistry Online ToolWomen with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease and stroke. Consider these facts:

  • More than 70% of deaths in people with diabetes are due to cardiovascular disease.
  • Heart attacks in women with diabetes usually occur at younger ages than women without diabetes.
  • Diabetes erases any heart disease protective advantage women may have because of the positive effects of estrogen.
  • Women with diabetes have a fivefold increase in risk for coronary heart disease as compared to women without diabetes.
  • Women with diabetes have more adverse outcomes after a heart attack than men with diabetes, including a higher mortality rate.
  • Smoking and diabetes each independently increase the risk for coronary heart disease fourfold in women. The effect may be additive in women who both have diabetes and smoke.
  • Women with diabetes experience more depression than men with diabetes. Depression has been implicated as an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease in women with diabetes.
  • Exercise stress tests in women yield a higher rate of false positives. Additionally, negative exercise stress tests have a lower negative predictive value. Many physicians order perfusion imaging in combination with exercise in order to obtain more accurate results in women.
  • More women with diabetes have elevations in blood pressure than men with diabetes.
  • Low HDL and high triglycerides have greater adverse impact on risk for vascular disease in women than in men.

It can be overwhelming reading these facts. The good news is that if you control blood sugars, cholesterol, and blood pressure you can decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke. Keeping balance between all the responsibilities women have is difficult, but can be lifesaving - literally. If you have diabetes, it is even more important that you make the time to care for yourself. Support can come from a variety of sources; here are a few:

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