Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors in Women

Diabetes in Women

The development of diabetes in women -- who naturally experience an increase in the risk of coronary heart disease as they age as a result of menopause -- is especially worrisome because diabetes significantly adds to this risk. In fact, diabetes has been shown to be more dangerous for women than men.

Studies of women with impaired glucose tolerance (levels of glucose in the bloodstream that are above normal but do not yet signal diabetes, also referred to as pre-diabetes) have demonstrated the advantages of regular exercise and a healthy diet, which contribute to weight loss.

Both the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study and the Diabetes Prevention Program study found that the participants who made lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and increasing the level of physical activity, could reduce by almost 60 percent within three years the progression of impaired glucose tolerance to diabetes. Moreover, the Diabetes Prevention Program study found that lifestyle changes were even more effective than medication at reducing the incidence of diabetes.

Diabetes is so serious that it actually catapults women -- who usually have a lower risk of coronary heart disease than men before menopause -- to the same level of risk as men. Prevention is key to preventing the development of type 2 diabetes. This includes a balanced diet, losing excess weight, and engaging in regular physical activity.

For more information on coronary heart disease, see:


Dr. Neil Stone is a professor of clinical medicine in cardiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University and a practicing internist-cardiologist-lipidologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He also serves as the Medical Director of the Vascular Center for the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Stone was a member of the first and third National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panels and a past chairman of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and Clinical Affairs Committee.

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