The Heart of the Matter: Women with Diabetes are More at Risk

| Oct 21, 2009

A large Kaiser Permanente study, published this month in Diabetes Care, has found that women with diabetes are 26 percent more likely to develop the very rapid and irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (AF) than women without diabetes. Although not a killer on its own, AF is a serious condition that requires medical treatment and can cause complications. In addition to fatigue, the poor circulation that results from AF can lead to blood pooling and clotting, ultimately causing a stroke.

The seven-year Kaiser Permanente study used an unprecedented number of patients (almost 35,000 patients, half with diabetes and half without) and was controlled for factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and age. The researchers found that although men with diabetes are also at higher risk of AF than those without diabetes, the link between AF and diabetes is not as profound as it is in women. The study's lead investigator, Greg Nichols, PhD, said in a press release that "obesity and high blood pressure are still the bigger risk factors for men with diabetes."

Nearly 2.2 million people in the United States have AF, and many more go undiagnosed. The study authors pointed out that given the prevalence of AF and the rising numbers of people with diabetes, close attention should be paid to the link between the two conditions, especially in women. If more studies demonstrate a gender difference in the disease, perhaps one day men and women with diabetes will be treated differently by healthcare providers.

You might also enjoy Hope for Healthy Hearts, Women Have the Power to Lessen Risk

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Source: Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic

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Posted by dorisjdickson on 28 October 2009

Ok. I'm frustrated by this article (and potentially by the study). I either had to find and read the source document myself or toss the information entirely from my brain.

Why? There is no mention of separating type 1 from type 2 - very different when there pre-existing co-conditions that frequently exist with an adult type 2 versus those of us juvenile onsets who are 1) not/never overweight 2) used insulin from day 1 3) didn't go 5-10 years before being diagnosed thus skipped all that damage 4) do not have insulin resistance or any other metabolic syndrome symptoms 5) have A1Cs MUCH lower than recommended levels thus further reducing our risk.

Instead, stuff like this scare the bejesus out of everyone and gives doctors further reason to think that all diabetics must be treated as if they've already had a heart attack - thus handing out meds like candy. And that's just plain wrong.

Sorry ... stuff like this is very frustrating especially when it is sliced and diced and has little context.

Posted by Anonymous on 28 October 2009

I have to agree with the comment by doris... Her thoughts were exactly on my mind as I was reading this article. I've had diabetes for 37 years, have had no complications, have not had insulin resistance.... It's tiring to have to worry about what 'may happen' because of diabetes and going through menopause now, I never know when/what to worry about especially as it relates to the heart.

Posted by Anonymous on 28 October 2009

As a Type 1 diabetic, I agree with Doris. Please clarify which Type(s) of Diabetes is included in any studies done.

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