For many years researchers did studies that involved only male subjects and then generalized their findings to include women. However, scientists are finally figuring out that women’s bodies don’t respond in the same way that men’s bodies do. Two new studies highlight this difference in important ways.
Diabetes and heart health
Studies have found that diabetes takes a larger toll on women’s hearts than men’s. One study involved an analysis of 19 previous studies between 1966 and 2014 that included nearly 11 million people from North America, Europe and Asia. The researchers in this study found that women who had diabetes had a 38 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or chest pain than men who had this condition. Another study out of Italy echoed this finding. These researchers’ analysis found that women who had diabetes had a 34 percent higher risk of having a heart attack than men with this disease.
Diabetes and menopause
Why should you care? It turns out that diabetes is a tremendous scourge for women going through the menopausal transition. This condition is the sixth leading cause of death among women between the ages of 45 and 54 and then climbs to the fourth leading cause of death for women between the ages of 55 and 64. Researchers are not sure if the menopausal transition increases a woman’s risk of developing diabetes. However, they believe that our changing hormonal levels (along with age and weight) may be a factor.
Diabetes and you
So what is diabetes? The American Diabetes Association has a video that provides a good overview.
Because of these health risks, it’s important to work with your health care provider to get tested for diabetes and, if diagnosed, to develop and follow a treatment plan. It’s also important, even if you don’t have diabetes at this point, to make lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise, that will foster continuing good health as you age.
See more helpful articles:
Gordon, S. (2015). Diabetes Takes a Toll on Women’s Heart. MedlinePlus.
North American Menopause Society. (ND). Diabetes Hits Women Hard at Menopause: Beat It Back.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.