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Dr. Andrea Moyer, St. Luke's Hospital

Younger Women with Diabetes at Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Those with diabetes know the burden the disease can have on one's mind and body, but there is new evidence that makes the toll on women's health even greater.

Diabetes is a group of diseases typically identified as Type 1, Type 2 or Gestational. The disease occurs when a person has elevated blood glucose (blood sugar) attributed to insufficient insulin production, or they have improper response to insulin, or both. Typically, those who develop diabetes will experience an array of symptoms that include frequent urination, thirst, hunger (even after or during meals), fatigue, impaired vision, problem-healing wounds, weight loss with regular eating habits and/or numbness or discomfort in the extremities. Some people are also at-risk for pre-diabetes, a condition where blood sugar is abnormally high, but does not fall within the guidelines of full-blown diabetes.

According to the latest figures from the American Diabetes Association, around 12.6 million women, or just over 10 percent of all women aged 20 years or older, have diabetes. A recently-published study puts those women who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, especially younger females, at an even higher risk for another life-limiting disease - heart disease. The research conducted by Johns Hopkins with over 10,000 participants found that women under the age of 60 who had diabetes were four times more at risk for developing heart disease. In addition, the study participants had no prior history of heart disease. This is concerning because this study is one of the first to correlate diabetes with heart disease for women of any age, making it more of a priority to identify those with diabetes so early intervention can be administered.

There are several ways to test for diabetes including A1C testing, fasting blood glucose test, oral glucose tolerance test and random plasma glucose test. If you are experiencing symptoms of diabetes, have a family history or at risk for the disease, discuss your concerns with your physician immediately. The sooner you treat diabetes, the better control and management you can have over the condition. You can even successfully prevent its onset entirely.

Dr. Andrea Moyer is a cardiologist at St. Luke's Hospital. To learn more about diabetes prevention or management or to connect with a diabetes educator, call 314-205-6483 or visit the Diabetes Education page. For more on heart disease and St. Luke's cardiac services, visit our Heart Services page.

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on February 20, 2014.

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St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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