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Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes
  1. Tyler M. Miller, BA,
  2. Sarah Gilligan, MS,
  3. Leah L. Herlache, MS,
  4. Judith G. Regensteiner, PhD
  1. From the Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Cardiology, Center for Women’s Health Research, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.
  1. Received October 18, 2011, and in revised form January 9, 2012.
  2. Accepted for publication January 9, 2012.
  3. Reprints: Judith G. Regensteiner, PhD, Center for Women’s Health Research, University of Colorado School of Medicine General Internal Medicine, Mail Stop B180, Building AO1 12631 East 17th Avenue, Room 8221 Aurora, Colorado 80045. E-mail: judy.regensteiner{at}


Diabetes currently affects approximately 14% of the US population, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in those with diabetes. Although in the general population women are at lower risk than men for CVD, women have a disproportionately greater increase in risk for CVD than do men in the context of diabetes. Physical activity is considered a cornerstone in the prevention and treatment of CVD and its risk factors, but greater barriers to physical activity may exist for women with diabetes compared to their male counterparts. In this article, we review sex differences in CVD incidence and risk among diabetics, sex differences in physical activity behaviors, cardiovascular abnormalities and impaired exercise capacity in women living with diabetes, and the effects of exercise on prevention and treatment of CVD in diabetic women. Finally, we discuss future research needed to clarify potential sex differences in the cardiovascular effects of diabetes and to establish ways to reduce the barriers to exercise in women with diabetes.

Key Words
  • diabetes
  • women
  • sex differences
  • cardiovascular disease
  • exercise

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