Women with type 1 diabetes face 40% more risk than men and have more than twice the risk of dying from heart disease, said a large meta-analysis involving more than 200 000 people with type 1 diabetes published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
So fat, researchers are aware that people with type 1 diabetes have shorter life expectancies than the general population, due to long-term complications. But, until now, it was not clear whether this excess risk of mortality is the same in women and men with the disease.
Explaining the cause, Rachel Huxley, lead author and Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland in Australia, said: “On average, women live longer than men. But, our findings show that in women with type 1 diabetes this ‘female protection’ seems to be lost and excess deaths in women with type 1 diabetes are higher than in men with the disease.”
Huxley and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of all studies examining sex-specific data of mortality for men and women associated with type 1 diabetes in the last 5 decades (from January 1966 to November 2014).
Analysis of data from 26 studies involving 214,114 individuals with the disease found a 37% higher excess risk of dying from any cause in women with type 1 diabetes compared with men who have the disorder.
In particular, women have nearly double the excess risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease than men. Women with type 1 diabetes also face a greater excess risk of strokes (37%) and are 44% more likely to die from kidney disease than men with the disorder. Interestingly, type 1 diabetes is not linked with an increased risk of death from cancers in either sex.
The authors attribute it to poorer glycaemic control and difficulties in insulin management, which are more common among women.
According to the latest figures, type 1 diabetes in children aged 14 years and younger has increased by 3% every year since 1989. Around 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year in the US alone, and the disease costs the US health-care system around $14.9 billion annually.
David Simmons from the University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia said in his comment that the reason behind the risk of excess mortality in women can be reduced in view of the findings with additional expenditure on the care of patients with the disorder and cautioned against taking away the benefits.
“The additional investment in the diabetes specialist and mental health services to be able to give the additional time that patients need, and into modern technology that can help reduce hyperglycaemia while avoiding hypoglycaemia and fear of hypoglycaemia, must start now,” he said.