Women are more prone to hypoglycaemia than men

June 27, 2012

Just how important a gender-specific perspective and the personalised treatment of illnesses are between men and women is being demonstrated by two current studies at the MedUni Vienna, which are being led by Alexandra Kautzky-Willer from the University Department of Internal Medicine III (Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Gender Medicine Unit). On the one hand, the studies have shown that women have better protection against diabetes before the menopause than men, while on the other it has become apparent that women with diabetes are more likely to suffer hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) than men, a condition that can be fatal.

“Generally speaking, we have made tremendous progress in diabetes medicine. Thanks to improved treatment options, mortality has reduced, but patients' quality of life still remains significantly impaired. Diabetes still takes an average of seven years off a woman's life, whereas it is six for men,” says Kautzky-Willer, who is the only Professor of Gender Medicine in Austria. The current study has shown that hypoglycaemia, perhaps caused by too high a dose of insulin, too little carbohydrate intake or other treatment mistakes, more frequently has a negative impact on the quality of life of women with diabetes than it does of men.

Says Kautzky-Willer: “We not only noticed this phenomenon during the day, but also at night.” The reasons for this include the significant reduction in the haemoglobin A1c level (a marker of the mean blood sugar level over recent months) being less in women, plus the ratio of insulin to body weight was also higher than in men. Says Kautzky-Willer: “This invites the conclusion that we need to give women more targeted insulin doses that are adapted better to their personal situations in order to improve their blood sugar control, but without increasing the risk of dangerous hypoglycaemic attacks.”

In a second study being carried out at the MedUni Vienna, which has now been published in the highly respected magazine Obesity, it has been discovered that pre-menopausal women are better protected against diabetes - probably due to the higher oestrogen levels in the blood - but that after the menopause their cardio-metabolic risk increases much more. “We have shown that women before the are more sensitive to insulin and also have better insulin responses to glucose challenges, but their glucose and fat metabolism, as well as their blood pressure, deteriorate much more markedly after the age of 50 compared to men. This might explain why men develop diabetes more frequently in their younger and middle-aged years than women.” These results will form the starting point for further research, says the metabolic expert, aimed at finding new approaches so that this menopausal change and the post-menopausal increase in risk can be prevented with medicine.

Explore further: One cause of fatty deposits in the hearts of diabetes patients settled

More information: “Influence of Increasing BMI on Insulin Sensitivity and Secretion in Normotolerant
Men and Women of a Wide Age Span.” A. Kautzky-Willer, A. Brazzale E. Moro, J. Vrbíková, B. Bendlova, S. Sbrignadello, A. Tura, G. Pacini. Obesity (2012) doi:10.1038/oby.2011.384.

“Glycemic Control and Hypoglycemia Prevalence According to Gender: An Analysis of RCT Data.” A. Kautzky-Willer, L. Kosi, R. Mihaljevic, J. Lin, E. Wang. Sanofi, Bridgewater, NJ, USA. ADA (Philadelphia) 2012, Diabetes 61, Suppl.1

Related Stories

One cause of fatty deposits in the hearts of diabetes patients settled

April 16, 2012
The impaired substrate metabolism of diabetes patients is often expressed in an increase in fatty deposits in the cells of the heart muscle. Until now, the exact cause of this was unknown. Now, Austrian researchers at the ...

Men develop diabetes at lower BMIs than women

October 3, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Men develop type 2 diabetes at a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than women, according to new research by clinical academics at the University of Glasgow.

Diabetes associated with higher risk of cardiovascular problems in men

March 25, 2012
According to a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), men with type 2 diabetes treated with insulin without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were at higher risk for major cardiovascular events ...

Dieting beats exercise for diabetes prevention, combination is best

August 30, 2011
Lifestyle changes that include dieting to lose weight and exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes, but researchers were uncertain which element contributes more. A new study suggests that, in postmenopausal women at least, ...

Recommended for you

Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections

September 22, 2017
Group A Streptococcus bacteria cause a variety of illnesses that range from mild nuisances like strep throat to life-threatening conditions including pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and the flesh-eating disease formally known ...

Ecosystem approach makes urinary tract infection more treatable

September 22, 2017
The biological term 'ecosystem' is not usually associated with urinary tract infections, but this should change according to Wageningen scientists.

Residents: Frontline defenders against antibiotic resistance?

September 22, 2017
Antibiotic resistance continues to grow around the world, with sometimes disastrous results. Some strains of bacteria no longer respond to any currently available antibiotic, making death by infections that were once easily ...

Individualized diets for irritable bowel syndrome better than placebo

September 21, 2017
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome who follow individualized diets based on food sensitivity testing experience fewer symptoms, say Yale researchers. Their study is among the first to provide scientific evidence for this ...

Superbug's spread to Vietnam threatens malaria control

September 21, 2017
A highly drug resistant malaria 'superbug' from western Cambodia is now present in southern Vietnam, leading to alarming failure rates for dihydroartemisinin (DHA)-piperaquine—Vietnam's national first-line malaria treatment, ...

Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system

September 21, 2017
For years, medical investigators have tried and failed to develop vaccines for a type of staph bacteria associated with the deadly superbug MRSA. But a new study by Cedars-Sinai investigators shows how staph cells evade the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.