Feature Article

Diabetes and CVD risk in women. Optimising outcomes

Bethany Crinall, Sophia Zoungas
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Women with type 2 diabetes are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Early identification and modification of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors, and adherence to clinical management guidelines are essential for optimising outcomes.

Key Points

  • Cardiovascular disease is the most common complication affecting patients with type 2 diabetes and is responsible for death in more than 30% of them.
  • The protective effect against cardiovascular disease usually afforded to women is eliminated by the presence of diabetes.
  • Women with type 2 diabetes have a much higher relative risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease than men with diabetes.
  • Many women experience less intensive screening and management of cardiovascular risk factors than men.
  • Women at high risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be identified early by using established screening algorithms such as the Australian type 2 diabetes risk assessment tool (AUSDRISK) and the Australian absolute cardiovascular risk calculator, which are both available as online tools.
  • Women with a history of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and require early identification and modification of metabolic risk factors, regular screening for diabetes and intensive management of cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Women with type 2 diabetes require close attention to cardiovascular disease risk stratification and intensive monitoring and management, which can be achieved by adherence to best practice clinical guidelines.

    Picture credit: © Berc/iStockphoto. Model used for illustrative purposes only.