Women with Diabetes, Watch Out for Heart Disease

Women with diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) are at a higher risk for developing heart disease than men with the disorder, according to a study in a recent issue of Diabetologia.

The medical journal’s meta-analysis of 64 studies involved more than 850,000 individuals and 28,000 coronary events. It confirmed the connection between diet, exercise and certain medications that the Framingham Heart Study first established in the mid-20th Century.

The Diabetologia article also highlighted more recent findings about differences between women’s health issues and men’s. Diabetic men experience similar risks for cardiovascular disease, but not to the same degree as women in the US. The gender differences in diabetes-related heart disease risk persist across different age groups and regions.

For women, diabetes leads to more than a 40% greater risk of developing heart disease. There are more adverse changes that increase women with diabetes’ heart-disease risk–higher blood pressure, lower HDL (good) cholesterol and more abdominal fat.

Furthermore, diabetes counteracts the protective effects of estrogen , so heart-disease risk goes up for premenopausal women with diabetes, too. The hardest-hit women have African-American, Hispanic/Latina and Native-American backgrounds.

How Women with Diabetes Can Protect Their Health

Risk factors for diabetes include being older than 45, being overweight, having diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) and having a parent or sibling with diabetes. If you are at risk, get regular medical check-ups and speak to your physician about how to prevent diabetes.

Reduce the chance of developing diabetes or help prevent long-term complications from the disorder with some basic changes:

  • Make healthy choices. Weight control and physical activity help to prevent diabetes, so fuel yourself with good-for-you food and exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the risk for heart disease.
  • Control blood glucose levels to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 33% to 50%. Controlling blood glucose also decreases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease by 57%.

Free Diabetes Groups

For more information and encouragement, come to one of the many diabetes information sessions and support-group meetings that the North Shore-LIJ Health System offers. They are free and open to everyone. Special focuses as noted.

  • Forest Hills Hospital,102-01, 66th Road, Forest Hills, NY, 11375
    The 4th Wednesday of the month, 7 p.m.
    Contact Nataliya Shaforost, RN, NP
  • Glen Cove Hospital, 101 St Andrews Lane, Maxwell Board Room, Glen Cove, NY 11542
    The 3rd Monday of the month, noon to 1 p.m.
    Contact Meg Diliberto, RN
  • Huntington Hospital’s Dolan Family Health Center, 284 Pulaski Road, Greenlawn, NY 11740—Educational presentations
    The 2nd Thursday of the month, 7 p.m.
    Contact Virginia Smith, RN
  • LIJ Medical Center, 270-05 76th Ave, Research Building, Room 375, New Hyde Park, NY 11040–Type 2 focus
    The 2nd Wednesday of the month, 10:30 to 11:30 am
    Contact Donna Jornsay, RN
  • North Shore-LIJ Health System, 2800 Marcus Ave, Suite 200, Lake Success, NY 11042
    Meets one Wednesday per month, at 7 p.m.
    Contact Julia Schulman, RN, or Donna Jornsay, RN
  • Plainview Hospital, 888 Old Country Road, Conference Room A (Basement), Plainview NY 11803
    The 4th Monday of the month at 7:30-8:30 p.m.
    Contact Pat Weil, RN, NP
  • Southside Hospital, 301 East Main Street, Boardrooms 1 and 2, Bay Shore NY 11706
    The 3rd Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m.
    Contact Loriann Gross, RN
  • Staten Island University Hospital, 475 Seaview Ave, Regina McGinn Education Center, Diabetes Conference Room, Staten Island NY 10302
    Support group–January, March, May, September and November, one Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
    Insulin pump support group—The 1st Monday of the month, 7 p.m. (excluding summers).
    Eductational presentations–The 3rd or 4th Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m. (excluding summers).
    Contact Mary Gundersen, RN

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