The connection between type 2 diabetes mellitus and heart disease is
well-drawn. However, information from a recent study states that women with the disease may be at greater risk for health problems than men.

In a paper published in Circulation (2015; doi: 10.1161/ CIR.0000000000000343), the American Heart Association shared findings showing that the risk for coronary heart disease is twice as high for women with type 2 diabetes as it is for men with this disease. The study authors theorized that hormonal differences between men and women may have something to do with this, but the idea requires further study.

Here are a few of the other findings presented in the paper:

  • Women over the age of 60 who have type 2 diabetes have higher
    levels of hypertension.
  • Abdominal fat is more strongly associated with early death in
    women than in men.
  • Heart attacks happen earlier and are more life-threatening in
  • Incident heart failure is more common among women than men.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a stronger risk factor for stroke in women than
    in men.
  • Women have higher HDL cholesterol than men.

The report’s authors suggested that physical activity may offer an effective intervention; however, women may need to exercise more and at greater intensity than men to experience benefits.

“From a practical standpoint, at least 2 hours per week of activity was associated with lower cardiovascular events for women with type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Nurses’ Health Study cohort, and this finding is consistent with the U.S. physical activity guidelines and the joint American Diabetes Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for people with diabetes mellitus, which recommend at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity for all adults,” they said.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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