Suffering from diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease, particularly in women, a new study from Australia, says.bodytel/Flickr

Suffering from diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease, particularly in women, a new study from Australia, says.

In the study, women with diabetes had 44 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to men suffering from diabetes.

The Australian researchers based their study on 8,58,507 people and 28,203 cases of coronary heart diseases, included in 64 studies, conducted between 1966 and 2011.

Diabetes posed great threat to the heart, in both men and women. While diabetes nearly doubled (2.16) the risk of developing heart disease in men, the heart risk associated with diabetes nearly tripled (2.82) in women, compared to their corresponding non-diabetic controls.

Results of the study, reported in Diabetologia come as a support to previous studies that cited 46 percent increased risk of death from heart disease and 25 percent additional risk of stroke in women with diabetes compared to male diabetic patients.

Men become diabetic much earlier than women, and so manage to receive an improved care, treatment and constant monitoring, than women.

"Physicians may be more likely to recognise the early symptoms of CHD in men than women because of men's higher absolute risk, and thus sex differences in medication use and risk factor control may still exist," Professor Rachel Huxley from the University of Queensland, Australia and colleagues, said in a news release. "Greater awareness of early symptoms of CHD in women and sex-specific therapeutic risk factor management, irrespective of the presence of diabetes, will be the best way to improve clinical outcomes in both women and men."

Diabetes is a condition when a person's blood sugar levels become extremely high. The chronic condition occurs due to two reasons - when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin in the body or when the body cells refuse to give proper response to insulin.

The high sugar levels in the blood damages blood vessels and leads to hypertension and atherosclerosis or an accumulation of plaques on the artery walls. The narrowing and hardening of arteries are well-known factors that pose risk to the heart. The build-up of fatty deposits in the artery wall reduces blood flow, causing blood clots, heart failure, strokes, high blood pressure, renal failure, leg pains and aneurysm or swelling of blood vessels.

Nearly 65 percent of diabetic people die from heart disease or stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Hypertension, obesity, abnormal blood lipids associated with diabetes have been known to play a major role in this occurrence.

Nearly 347 million people around the world are estimated to be affected with diabetes. In 2012, nearly 62 million Indians were diabetic. However, research shows that nearly 44 lakh Indians, aged between 20 and 79, are still unaware that they are diabetic.