Diabetic women are at 34 percent higher risk of heart attack and other related complications than diabetic men as they age, researchers have warned.

“With respect to acute heart attack (acute myocardial infarction or AMI), diabetic women are more disadvantaged compared to diabetic men, with a gender driven “risk window” for women which mostly opens around menopausal age (45 years onwards),” explained lead researcher Dr Giuseppe Seghieri from Regional Health Agency in Florence, Italy.

“Regarding ischemic stroke (IS) and congestive heart failure (CHF), it opens later, in the postmenopausal age (55 years and over) and to a lesser extent. All this should focus attention on a timely, gender oriented, prevention of cardiovascular events in people with diabetes,” the authors noted.

For the study, the authors did a retrospective follow-up study along a period of eight years (from 2005 to 2012) of a cohort of diabetic patients living in Tuscany, a region of central Italy.

They pooled data from all Tuscan hospitals over the period 2005 to 2012 and a dataset containing the registry of all known diabetic patients from Tuscany.

The effect of diabetes was separately measured in men and in women across this entire eight year period.

After adjusting for several factors, the hazard ratio was significantly higher in women than in men hospitalised for acute heart attack – 2.63 times increased risk for women compared to 1.96 times for men – giving a relative increased risk of 34 percent in women.

However the increased risk was overall similar between genders for those hospitalised for ischemic stroke (IS) and congestive heart failure (CHF).

The paper, published in the journal Diabetologia, was presented at this year’s annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm recently.

Previous research has also revealed that diabetic women have a higher risk of cardiovascular events than diabetic men, when compared with the respective non-diabetic counterparts.