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A new global study of 12 million people has found diabetes increases the risk of heart failure and that women are more at risk than men.

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health recently determined women with type 1 diabetes were associated with more than five-fold increased risk of heart failure compared to those without diabetes.

For men, the risk was 3.5 fold higher.

The study found the differential was greater in type 1 than type 2 diabetes.

Specifically, Type 1 diabetes was associated with a 47% excess risk of heart failure in women compared to men, while Type 2 diabetes recording a 9% higher excess risk of heart failure in women than men.

Published in Diabetolgia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), the findings highlight the need for further gender-specific research into diabetes and how the condition can trigger heart complications.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 415 million adults worldwide live with diabetes, with about 199 million being women.

Diabetes is also the ninth leading cause of death in women and claims 2.1 million female lives each year, with the number one cause being heart disease.

“It is already known that diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing heart failure but what our study shows for the first time is that women are at far greater risk – for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes,” lead author and research fellow from the George Institute, Dr Toshiaki Ohkuma said.

“The increased risk of heart failure following a diabetes diagnosis is significantly greater in women than men, which highlights the importance of intensive prevention and treatment of diabetes in women.”

Study co-author Dr Sanne Peters, from The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford, said a variety of factors contributed to women with diabetes being more susceptible to heart complications.

“Women are reported to have two years’ longer duration of prediabetes than men and this increased duration may be associated with greater excess risk of heart failure in women,” Dr Peters explained.

“Some major concerns are that women are also being undertreated for diabetes, are not taking the same levels of medications as men and are less likely to receive intensive care.”