Researcher wants gender-based treatment; failure of women to lower LDL cholesterol means more risk for cardiovascular death
June 24, 2014 – A study of senior men and women with Type 2 diabetes, who were fighting to lower their cholesterol with statins, has found that women are much less likely to lower their bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The research leader is calling for gender-based treatment to lower the risk of cardiovascular death in women.
With treatment, only 64 per cent of women lowered their LDL cholesterol to the recommended level compared with 81 per cent of men, the investigators reported.
“The findings suggest the need for gender-based evaluation and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in these patients,” says Dr. Pendar Farahani.
“We need further study into the gender disparities to tailor drug interventions and we need to increase the inclusion of women in clinical trials.”
Dr. Farahani is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and Department of Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
This study demonstrated women with diabetes are more likely than men to have a LDL-C above treatment goals, according to the study. However, this pattern of gender gap was not observed for HgbA1c goal attainment. It did conclude that the concept of gender gap is useful for identifying at-risk groups for prevention and treatment efforts.
Research has also shown women have poorer adherence to taking their statin medication to treat high cholesterol, perhaps due to somewhat dissimilar pharmacological properties in a woman’s body than a man’s. For example, women often have more side effects such as muscle pain, explains Dr. Farahani.
“The finding that women were not able to lower their so-called bad cholesterol sufficiently is a concern,” he says. “Women with diabetes have a considerably higher rate of cardiovascular-related illness and death than men with diabetes. This pattern is likely related to poorer control of cardiovascular risk factors.”
Dr. Farahani’s research also discovered access to medication is not responsible for this difference. All patients, who were in a database from pharmacies in four Canadian provinces, had social insurance and were able to afford their medications.
To evaluate whether biological sex influenced the results of cholesterol-lowering drug treatment, Dr. Farahani included nearly equal numbers of men and women (101 and 97) in the study.
The average age of participants was 65 years for men and 63 years for women. All patients had Type 2 diabetes and had filled prescriptions for statin medication to treat high cholesterol between 2003 and 2004.
The results were presented on Saturday at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and The Endocrine Society: ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago.
Original report by Anne Craig, Communications Officer, Queen’s University