-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Feb. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study adds to
the evidence that diabetes may boost the risk of a stroke in women
but not in men.
"All women, especially those over 55 years old, [should] get their risk factors for heart disease screened and aggressively treated," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
She said prior studies have found that women with diabetes are
at higher stroke risk compared to men with the disease.
"As women go through menopause, the loss of protective estrogen allows for the risk factors of cardiovascular disease -- such as diabetes -- to wreak havoc on the arteries," explained Steinbaum, who was not involved in the new study.
According to background information in the study, women living
in developed countries are more likely to die from a stroke than
their male peers. In the United States, women accounted for nearly
60 percent of stroke deaths in 2010, the study authors said.
In the study, a team led by Dr. Gang Hu of the Pennington
Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., analyzed data
gathered from almost 11,000 men and more than 19,000 women. During
an average follow-up of almost seven years, nearly 3,000 cases of
stroke occurred among the participants.
Depending on their blood sugar control, women with diabetes were
19 to 42 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those without
diabetes. The researchers also found that risk of stroke among
women with diabetes was much higher for those aged 55 and older,
compared to younger women.
No association between diabetes and stroke risk was found in
men, according to the study published Feb. 24 in the journal
"Diabetes poses a substantially greater increase in the risk of stroke among women than among men, which merits further investigation," the researchers concluded.
Why wouldn't diabetes raise men's stroke risk, too? According to
Steinbaum, treatment may be key.
"Men tend to receive more preventive care and medications to protect the arteries, such as aspirin and statins," she said. "This lack of continuity [in care] between the genders could be the reason for the discrepancy."
Steinbaum also believes that women with diabetes tend to have
more concurrent conditions such as high cholesterol levels or high
blood pressure, compared to diabetic men.
"The best way to manage stroke is through prevention," she said. "For women, especially, where the link between elevated sugars and stroke is so clearly defined, and worse outcomes are more often seen, the emphasis needs to be on treating the risk factors and certainly implementing lifestyle options" to help wrestle blood sugar under control, she added.
The study authors agreed. "More aggressive blood sugar
treatments and better control of other risk factor levels in women
with diabetes are likely to substantially reduce stroke in this
subgroup," Hu said in a journal news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about
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