Men Prone to Higher Risk than Women for Risk of Diabetes Complications: Study


A long-term study that was published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health indicates that men are more likely than women to experience the major health impacts of diabetes (types 1 and 2). Regardless of how long they had had diabetes, men had greater rates of cardiovascular disease, difficulties in their legs, feet, and kidneys, as well as the potentially blinding condition known as diabetic retinopathy.

According to the study, the number of people with diabetes worldwide is expected to increase to 783 million by 2045, with a similar prevalence in men and women.

However, even while males are more likely than women to have cardiovascular disease, the researchers note that it’s unclear whether there is a gender difference in the frequency of diabetes-related complications. Nor is it apparent whether the duration of time lived with diabetes would be influential, they say. In order to investigate this further, the researchers used survey data from the 45 and Up Study, Australia, a sizable prospective study that included 267,357 residents of New South Wales (NSW) who were over 45.

The responses were cross-referenced with the medical data of 25,713 individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in order to track the emergence of any significant health complications related to the disease.

These include peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), ulcers, cellulitis, osteomyelitis (bone inflammation), peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation), minor or major amputation, and kidney problems such as acute kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, dialysis, and kidney transplant. They also include cardiovascular disease such as ischemic heart disease, mini-stroke or TIA, stroke, heart failure, and diabetic cardiomyopathy. Over half (57%; 14,697) of the group were men, with a higher percentage being overweight (39% vs. 29% of women) and having a history of heart disease. Almost half of the group was between the ages of 60 and 74.

While the percentage of men and women who now smoked was similar, the percentage of men who had previously smoked was greater (51% compared to 29% for women).

Of the 19,277 (75%) diabetics whose ages were noted at the time of diagnosis, 58% had had the condition for fewer than ten years, and 42% had had it for ten years or more. Diabetes-related problems affected men more frequently and put them at higher risk.

After accounting for age across a ten-year monitoring period, 44% of the males had issues related to cardiovascular disease and 57% had problems related to their eyes. Similarly, renal problems affected 35% of the men while leg/foot problems affected 25%. For women, the corresponding percentages were 31%, 61%, 18%, and 25%, in that order.

Men were generally 51% more likely than women to acquire cardiovascular disease, 47% more likely to experience problems with their legs and feet, and 55% more likely to experience problems with their kidneys. Men were somewhat more likely (14%) to develop diabetic retinopathy than women, despite the fact that there was minimal variation in the overall risk of ocular problems between the sexes. The amount of years that a person with diabetes lived with complications increased the rate of complications for both men and women, but the difference in complication rates by gender remained.

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