New research finds that women under 55 with diabetes have a greater risk of premature coronary heart disease (CHD). While overall deaths from heart disease have declined in recent years, death rates among younger patients have slightly increased. Researchers believe this could be because of this new correlation between diabetes and CHD.
To understand the relationship between younger women with diabetes and CHD, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic analyzed more than 50 risk factors in 28,024 women who participated in the decades-long Women’s Health Study.
Approximately 50 biomarkers were analyzed, which were linked with cardiovascular health. Metrics such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol) and hemoglobin A1C (a measure of blood sugar levels) had much weaker associations with coronary heart disease onset in women younger than 55 years than LPIR, a newer metric for insulin resistance.
LPIR is a more advanced way of analysis through specialized laboratory testing, which uses a weighted combination of six lipoprotein measures. Whereas LDL cholesterol was only associated with a 40 percent increase in CHD onset risk in women under 55, LPIR demonstrated a sixfold (600 percent) increase.
“In otherwise healthy women, insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, and its sister diagnosis, metabolic syndrome, were major contributors to premature coronary events,” said corresponding author Samia Mora, MD, MHS. “Women under 55 who have obesity had about a fourfold-increased risk for coronary events, as did women in that age group who smoked or had hypertension. Physical inactivity and family history are all part of the picture as well.”
With diabetes rates on the rise, new research into preventative strategies is urgently needed. This study was able to identify that women with type 2 diabetes have a tenfold more significant risk of developing CHD over the next two decades, with lipoprotein insulin resistance (LPIR) proving to be a robust and predictive biomarker. Researchers believe this way of testing can provide physicians with a new way of preventing future risks of illness and disease, including heart attacks.
Diabetes is a preventable disease. This means that with lifestyle-based strategies, the risk of diabetes can be lowered. However, experts agree that it must be a comprehensive approach. This includes strategies such as community efforts, greater public health efforts, ways to target metabolic pathways, or new surgical approaches medically.
Prevention is better than a cure, and this study shows that many risk factors for diabetes and heart disease are preventable. Many lifestyle changes can help to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These could include managing weight, getting plenty of exercise, and eating healthy.