Doctors have long viewed heart failure as a man's disease, but recent reports suggest it is an equal opportunity condition. Now, a new study is helping to identify which women are at highest risk.
According to investigators who analyzed the medical records of nearly 2,400 women taking part in the Heart and Estrogen/Progesterone Replacement Study (HERS), postmenopausal women with heart disease are about three-times more likely to develop heart failure if they also have diabetes. Add kidney disease, obesity, or poorly controlled diabetes into the mix and the risk is even higher. Women with these conditions are six- to 10-times more likely to develop heart failure.
The next highest risk in the study was seen in women with an irregular heartbeat, who were 2.9-times more likely to develop heart failure. Other conditions raising the risk included: two or more heart attacks, poor kidney function, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, and two different heart disorders (left bundle branch block and left ventricular hypertrophy).
However researchers say that further studies are needed to determine whether the high risk of heart failure in diabetic women can be reversed with glucose control, treatment to halt the progression of renal disease, weight loss, and smoking cessation.