By Rita Carey Rubin
More than 90 percent of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. People may have elevated blood sugar or insulin levels up to 20 years before they’re diagnosed with diabetes. Women are often diagnosed with diabetes later than men.
Women Respond Differently to Disease and Treatment
Diabetes may also be more damaging to the vascular systems of women than men. Women are more susceptible to the cellular and vascular damage caused by elevated blood glucose and low-grade inflammation, a side effect of diabetes.
Women may also not respond as well to cardiovascular disease treatments. For example, medications that reduce blood clotting may not be as effective in preventing heart attacks in women.
Disparities in Treatment Between Men and Women
Women may be less likely to have their cardiac risk factors assessed and are typically not treated as aggressively as men. Most critically, women with diabetes are more likely to die of a heart attack than men. This could be because women are typically diagnosed with heart disease when they’re older.
In addition, women don’t experience classic heart attack symptoms: pain in the chest, arms, back, and jaw, heartburn, and shortness of breath. During a heart attack, only one in eight women report chest pain. Most experience pressure, aching, or tightness. Unusual fatigue is the most common symptom.
Are You at Risk?
Women at risk for prediabetes, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease include those who:
- Currently have, or have had gestational diabetes
- Are inactive
- Carry extra abdominal fat
- Have polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Experience chronic stress
- Eat a poor diet
- Have periodontal disease
- Have a family history of diabetes and heart disease
Symptoms of diabetes or prediabetes include:
- Depression and mood changes
- Increased cravings for sweets
- Sudden weight change
- Chronic vaginal yeast infections or urinary tract infections
- Increased hunger, thirst, and urination
- Sexual dysfunction
Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) offers these services for people with prediabetes or diabetes:
- Pendleton Centers. Located in Prescott and Prescott Valley, the Pendleton Center offers group fitness classes and personal training. We partner with SilverSneakers® and Silver&Fit®, Renew Active™ and provide top-tier equipment for our popular group classes.
- Preventive Medicine and Wellness. YRMC’s Diabetes Education program — recognized by the American Diabetes Association – helps you achieve good blood sugar control, which reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease.
For more information, call YRMC’s Preventive Medicine and Wellness at 928.771.5794.
Rita Carey Rubin hosts Your Healthy Kitchen, Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s online video series. Your Healthy Kitchen features cooking tutorials and local guests as well as delicious and affordable recipes.