Over time, type 1 diabetes can contribute to a number of cardiovascular problems. One of these is heart failure, in which your heart isn’t capable of adequately pumping blood throughout your body.
It’s long been known that diabetes — both type 1 and type 2 — raises the risk of heart failure, but when it comes to the magnitude of risk for men and women separately, many studies have come to different conclusions. So for a new study, researchers at the University of Oxford in Britain pooled data from many earlier studies, in what’s known as a meta-analysis. The earlier studies were conducted in the United States, Canada, Britain, Italy, Sweden, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia, as noted in a press release on the new research.
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Published in the journal Diabetologia, the new analysis includes data from 47 different groups of participants — over 12 million people in total. During the combined study period, over 250,000 participants experienced heart failure. This includes people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and those without diabetes.
After controlling for factors other than diabetes that could affect the risk of heart failure — such as age and other health conditions — the researchers found that men with type 1 diabetes were 3.47 times as likely as those without diabetes to experience heart failure. But the risk for women with type 1 diabetes was even greater by comparison: they were 5.15 times as likely as women without diabetes to develop heart failure.
Both men and women with type 2 diabetes were also at an increased risk for heart failure, but to a lesser and more equal degree. Men with type 2 diabetes were 1.74 times as likely to develop heart failure as those without diabetes, while women with type 2 diabetes were 1.95 times as likely to develop heart failure.
While it’s not exactly clear what explains the difference in heart failure risk between men and women with type 1 diabetes, the researchers have some ideas. “Some major concerns are that women are […] being undertreated for diabetes,” says study coauthor Dr. Sanne Peters, who adds that women potentially “are not taking the same levels of medications as men, and are less likely to receive intensive care.”
Want to learn more about recent type 1 diabetes research? Read “Kidney Disease Risk in Type 1 Diabetes Tied to Blood Pressure, Glucose Levels,” “Type 1 Diabetes at Early Age May Affect Brain Growth: Study” and “Quarter of People in U.S. With Type 1 Diabetes Ration Insulin.”
A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree in government from Harvard University. He writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.