Type 2 diabetes in itself, regardless of other risk factors, increases the risk of heart disease in women, a new study finds.
The study included nearly 1 300 Argentine women, aged 19 to 84, with and without type 2 diabetes. They underwent ultrasound imaging to measure plaque in their carotid arteries, large arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.
Plaque build-up in the carotid arteries was more common among the nearly 300 women with type 2 diabetes than in women without the disease. This was true regardless of age, family history, smoking history, having high blood pressure or menopausal status.
The findings were scheduled for presentation Thursday at an American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"To reduce the risk of heart attacks, we recommend screening women with type 2 diabetes at younger ages, even if they don't have other known risk [factors] for heart disease," study author Dr Nestor Garcia said in an AHA news release.
Although the study suggested type 2 diabetes is independently associated with heart disease in women, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans and is caused by the gradual build-up of plaque in the arteries, according to the news release. A growing number of Americans have type 2 diabetes, one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about heart disease.