BACKGROUND: Diabetes is a stronger risk factor for cardiovascular complications in women than men.
AIM: To evaluate whether there are sex differences in cardiovascular risk management in patients with diabetes in primary care.
DESIGN & SETTING: A cross-sectional study was undertaken using data from 12 512 individuals with diabetes within the Dutch Julius General Practitioners Network (JGPN) from 2013.
METHOD: Linear and Poisson regression analyses were used to assess sex differences in risk factor levels, assessment, treatment, and control.
RESULTS: No sex differences were found in HbA1c levels and control, while small differences were found for cardiovascular risk management. Blood pressure levels were higher (mean difference [MD] 1.09 mmHg; 95% confidence intervals [CI] = 0.41 to 1.77), while cholesterol levels (MD -0.38 mmol/l; 95% CI = -0.42 to -0.34) and body mass index ([BMI] MD -1.79 kg/m2; 95% CI = -2.03 to 1.56) were lower in men than women. Risk factor assessment was similar between sexes, apart from high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c), which was more commonly assessed in women (risk ratio [RR] 1.16; 95% CI = 1.13 to 1.20). Among those with a treatment indication for prevention, women with cardiovascular disease (CVD) were less likely to receive lipid-lowering drugs (RR 0.84; 95% CI = 0.76 to 0.93) than men, while women without CVD were more likely to receive lipid-lowering drugs (RR 1.16; 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.2). Among those treated, women were more likely to achieve systolic blood pressure (SBP) control (RR 1.06; 95% CI = 1.02 to 1.10) and less likely to achieve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) control (RR 0.88; 95% CI = 0.85 to 0.91) than men.
CONCLUSION: In this Dutch primary care setting, sex differences in risk factor assessment and treatment of people with diabetes were small. However, women with diabetes were less likely to achieve control for LDL-c and more likely to achieve blood pressure control than men with diabetes.