Women more likely to die with type 1 diabetes

Women with type 1 diabetes face a greater risk of dying from a range of diseases compared with men with the same condition, research suggests.

This is particularly the case when it comes to heart disease, Australian scientists report.

They say their findings could have “profound implications” for how women with the condition are treated.

Charities warn that the study highlights a failure of care that needs to be changed urgently.

Type 1 diabetes is a disorder that often appears in childhood. Patients’ pancreases are unable to produce the insulin needed to convert sugar and other foods into energy.

Compared with the general population, people with type 1 diabetes have a shorter life expectancy. But researchers say it hasn’t been clear until now whether this affects men and women equally.

To investigate this, scientists from the University of Queensland analysed data from more than 26 studies involving some 200,000 people with the disease.

Overall, they found women had a 40% increased risk of deaths from all causes.

They faced a greater risk of stroke than men and were also more likely to die from kidney disease.

No-one is entirely sure what lies behind these trends.

Simon O’Neill, of Diabetes UK said there had been evidence to suggest changes to girls’ bodies during puberty could make it more difficult for them to get their diabetes under control.

He added: “We need the NHS to urgently improve diabetes care so that all people are offered care that is tailored to their individual needs and so are able to manage their condition effectively and reduce their risk of devastating complications and early death.

“With the right care and support in place there is no reason why people with type 1 diabetes – both men and women – can’t live long, healthy lives.”

Sarah Johnson, from type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, said: “I’m angry. These findings show that type 1 diabetes care is failing and these failings should be addressed urgently for everyone with the condition – not just women.”

Prof Rachel Huxley, lead researcher on the project, said in a statement: “The marked difference between the sexes for vascular-related disease is likely to have profound clinical implications for how women with type 1 diabetes are treated and managed throughout their lives.”

The study appears in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

BBC News