10 Ways Diabetes Affects Women Differently Than Men

Let’s not beat around the bush: diabetes makes life tough. You have to plan ahead for everything, account for all your meals, and deal with high blood sugar constantly haunting your steps.

But brace yourselves: the complications of diabetes are harder on women than men. For example, while men with diabetes live about 7.5 years less than their non-diabetic peers, women with diabetes live 8.2 years less than their non-diabetic peers. In the general population, women live longer than men, but diabetes reverses their advantage. Women also have to deal with some complications, like polycystic ovary syndrome (POS), that men don’t ever have to consider. Can’t the ladies get a break?

Here are 10 ways that diabetes affects women differently than men:

1. Increased Risk for Heart Attack

The reason that women in the general population tend to live longer than men is mostly attributed to lower rates of heart disease. But diabetes increases women’s heart disease risk more so than it does men’s; women with diabetes are six times more likely to have heart disease than non-diabetic women, whereas men’s risk only increases two or three times with diabetes.

Among people with diabetes, women are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, increasing their heart disease and heart attack risk. But that’s not the whole story. Studies have shown that for women with diabetes, heart attacks are more often fatal. A woman’s warning signs may be more subtle as well. Common warning signs of heart attacks are chest pain and upper body discomfort, but a woman is more likely to deal with nausea, shortness of breath, and back or jaw pain before or during a heart attack. These signs are much less recognizable as the indications of heart attacks.

Photo: AdobeStock/Syda Productions

Photo: AdobeStock/Syda Productions

Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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