Women with a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at a much higher risk for heart failure than are men, a new study has shown.

In a global analysis of 12 million people, researchers found that women with type 1 diabetes have a 47% excess risk of heart failure. For women with type 2 diabetes, the risk is 9% greater than for men. While the two diseases have long been known to occur together, this study is the first to show a sex difference, wrote the study’s lead author Toshiaki Ohkuma, Ph.D., from The George Institute for Global Health.

Several factors may help explain the discrepancy, Ohkuma and colleagues suggested. When compared with men, women tend to have poorer disease management, take fewer medications and have less access to intensive care. They also spend up to two years longer than men living with untreated, elevated blood sugar during the early stages of the disease. In addition, women are generally at a greater risk of coronary heart disease.

The research “highlights the importance of intensive prevention and treatment of diabetes in women,” concluded Ohkuma.

Read more about the study