GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- If you're a woman living with diabetes, you have one more health concern to add to your list: a new study says women with diabetes are two and half times more likely to get heart disease than those without.
Taryn Herrick was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of four she is now 22. "It's just been so much a part of my life that I haven't known anything different."
And now Taryn will have to monitor one more thing, her heart. "I could be blind, I could have not legs, I could be missing my fingers next year."
An Australian study found that women with diabetes are 50% more likely than men with diabetes to get heart disease.
"It's a pretty profound study," says Dr. Josephina Diaz Shen, an endocrinologist with Mercy Health in Grand Rapids. And while the study didn't conclude why diabetic women are more at risk, she says there are several possibilities as to why this is the case. "Women tend to have atypical symptoms of heart disease, so it may make it harder to diagnose at an early age. Women tend to get diagnosed with diabetes when they have a higher severity of weight gain and obesity."
The study looked 850,000 people over 45 year period.
Dr. Shen says she thinks some good will come out of the study. "I think there's an opportunity to screen women more aggressively and treat women more aggressively with diabetes." Women like her patient Taryn. "As she gets older her risk factors for heart disease and low blood sugar change."
It's a sobering thought for Taryn, who up until now wasn't concerned about heart disease. "I had no idea at age 22 I should be focusing on that."
And to add to the concern the study highlighted, the latest statics just released by the CDC show that diabetes is on the rise in the U.S., up 10% in less than four years.