Prevalence of Diabetes in Women

As a woman with diabetes, you have plenty of company. About 13 million women have diabetes, that about one in 10 women over age 20—have diabetes.

Other facts include:

  • The average age of diagnosis for women is 55 years old
  • Certain racial and ethnic groups are at higher risk for diabetes. These include African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Native Hawaiian-Pacific Islander, and Asian Americans.

If you have diabetes, you probably know about the potential for eye and foot problems. But how much do you know about the most common complication of diabetes cardiovascular disease?

The fact is, people with diabetes are up to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than are people who do not have diabetes. Overall, women with diabetes have a 31% risk of heart disease or stroke

Unfortunately, about one-third of women with diabetes do not know they have the disease. For all these reasons, Cleveland Clinic experts in diabetes and heart disease recommend that every woman have her blood glucose tested, particularly those women with a family history of diabetes.

When you know you have diabetes based on the results of a blood test, you can take steps to manage your condition and live a longer, healthier life.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. Situated behind the stomach, the pancreas is the organ responsible for producing the hormone insulin. After food is eaten, it is broken down into glucose, the simple sugar that is the main source of energy for the body's cells. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells where it is converted to energy.

In diabetes, the pancreas either cannot produce enough insulin, cannot use insulin correctly or both. When insulin does not function properly, glucose cannot enter the cells. As a result, glucose levels in the blood increase and the cells lack the energy they need to function.

There are two forms of diabetes:

  • Type 1: also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes.
  • Type 2: also known as adult-onset diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease in the United States.