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Less Intensive Treatment Given Diabetic Women With Heart Disease

They have poorer control of risk factors, less likely to get cholesterol-lowering meds

MONDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Women with type 2 diabetes and heart disease often receive less of the medical treatment they need than men, making their ability to control both diseases more difficult, a new study reports.

The research findings, expected to be presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco, probably explains why death from heart disease is being lowered in male diabetics but not among females.

"Our study shows that in patients with diabetes, there is a clear disparity between men and women in the control and treatment of important modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease," study leader Dr. Ioanna Gouni-Berthold, professor of medicine at the University of Cologne in Germany, said in a prepared statement.

"Women have worse control of their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels compared to men and are given cholesterol-lowering medications less often," she said.

Researchers from three German universities studied almost 45,000 people with type 2 diabetes, 40 percent with heart and vascular disease, who were treated by private-practice physicians.

In the group with cardiovascular disease, they found that:

  • While women were 44 percent more likely than men to have high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, they were 15 percent less likely to receive lipid-lowering medications.
  • Women also were 19 percent more likely than men to have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • Women were 15 percent more likely to have poor long-term control of their blood glucose (sugar) level.

While women are normally less likely then men to die from heart disease, the findings shows diabetes may negate some of that lower risk, Gouni-Berthold said.

"More aggressive treatment of cardiovascular disease in women with diabetes may improve the gender disparity in cardiovascular disease mortality," she added. "Patients should speak with their doctors about the intensity of treatment modalities."

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about diabetes.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Endocrine Society, news release, June 15, 2008

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