TISDAY, November 6, 2018 (American Heart Association) – Traditional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension and sedentary lifestyle may not…
TISDAY, November 6, 2018 (American Heart Association) – Traditional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension and sedentary lifestyle may not be the only predictors of type 2 diabetes. New research points to the role that stress can play in the development of women’s status.
The study, presented on November 10 at the American Heart Associations Scientific Session Conference in Chicago, found that mounting stress from traumatic events, as well as long-term home or work situations, was associated with an almost double higher risk of new type 2 diabetes cases among elderly women.
“Psychosocial stressors as risk factors for diabetes should be taken as seriously as others included diabetes risk factors,” said Jonathan Butler, senior researcher at the University of California, San Francisco Center for Study of Adversity and Cardiovascular Disease.
Diabetes is a major public health problem affecting an estimated 30.3 million Americans from 201
5, according to the latest data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among these people are 12 million 65 years of age and older.
“As older women increasingly represent a higher proportion of our population, we need to better understand the risk factors for diabetes in this group,” says Butler.
Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body can not properly regulate blood sugar. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. While family history and age can play a role, factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and physical inactivity make people more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.
But researchers begin to look beyond just physiological risk factors.
“We have tried to understand the relationship between stress, mental health and diabetes risk for a while,” says Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine in Baltimore. New evidence suggests that psychosocial stress and how people can withstand stress can affect cardiometric health.
Past studies on stress and diabetes have focused on individual stressors, such as work or symptoms of depression or anxiety. Others have just watched snapshots in time. So, Butler and his colleagues sat down to understand the common relationship between multiple stressors with diabetes risk among women over time.
Researchers contained data of 22,706 female healthcare professionals who participated in women’s health science study who did not have heart disease and whose average age was 72 years. They collected information on acute and chronic stressors and then followed women for an average of three years. Acute stress included negative and traumatic life events, while chronic stress was related to work, family, relationships, economics, neighborhood and discrimination.
Women with the highest level of acute and chronic stress had almost double the risk of diabetes.
The next step will be to confirm the results and identify strategies aimed at psychosocial stressors that can reduce diabetes risk in elderly women, says Dr. Michelle A. Albert, the study’s senior author and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Healthcare professionals should question psychosocial stressors as part of their assessment of diabetes risk,” she says.
Currently, Golden said the new research highlighted the importance of considering the role of non-traditional risk factors as stress in the development of diabetes.
“We know that lifestyle intervention works to prevent diabetes, but it can be challenging if people experience cumulative stressors, such as losing a job or taking care of a family member that prevents them from engaging in healthy behaviors such as exercising, eat right or smoke, “she said. “It is important to assess and understand a patient’s social history. They may need to be referred to an advisor or social worker.”