“Our analysis suggests for the first time that diabetes may be associated with a higher incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in women than in men,” explains Elma Dervich from the Center for Complexity Science. Women with diabetes mellitus (DM) also have a 1.52 times higher risk of VTE than women without DM. In men, on the contrary, the risk is only 1.3 times higher.
“The relative risk of VTE increases especially after the age of 40,” explains Carola Deischinger of the Medical University of Vienna. According to the results of the study, the effect peaks in women aged 50-59, where the risk is 1.65 times higher. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.
About 45 million data from Austria
To determine the sex-specific effect of diabetes mellitus on VTE risk, the team examined a population-based data set. “With nearly 45 million data records, it covers all inpatient treatments in Austria between 2003 and 2014,” Derwicz said. Out of 180,034 DM patients, 70,739 are women and 109,295 are men.
Diabetes Mellitus: A Known Risk Factor for Venous Thromboembolism
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) includes two clinical manifestations: deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary artery embolism, the latter being a dangerous complication of thrombosis. “Typically, the risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) is about the same in both sexes,” explains Deischinger. Diabetes mellitus, a chronic disease affecting more than eight percent of the world’s population, is known to be a risk factor for VTE. “In our study, we again found a 1.4-fold higher risk of VTE in patients with diabetes than in controls without diabetes,” Dervic said.
Gender Differences in Medicine and Treatment of Diseases
What is new is the gender aspect. While conventional treatments may have little regard for gender-specific differences in many diseases, “thanks to major research efforts and Big Data analysis, we know a lot more about it today,” says Dervich. As a result, these differences can be analyzed in detail and treatments can be adjusted accordingly. This study was preceded by two studies dealing with gender-specific differences in diabetes patients with depression and Parkinson’s disease. Significant gender-specific differences were also found here.
An important step towards the prevention of venous thromboembolism
“Our findings suggest that women with diabetes should be monitored more carefully for the development of VTE, especially during perimenopause,” said Alexandra Kautzky-Willer from MedUni Vienna and last author of the study. This again suggests that women’s biological advantage—especially for vascular complications in diabetes—is reduced, and their risk increases as estrogen declines in menopause. All the more reason for intensive treatment of all risk factors at a younger age.
Analyzes examining the causes of the relative increase in risk are needed to further delineate this gender-specific correlation between DM and VTE. “This would be an important step toward preventing VTE in patients with DM, especially women,” Dervich says.