To investigate whether diabetes confers higher relative rates of cardiovascular events in women compared with men using contemporary data, and whether these sex-differences depend on age.
All Danish residents aged 40–89 years without a history major adverse cardiovascular events, including heart failure, as of 1 January 2012 until 31 December 2016 were categorized by diabetes-status and characterized by individual-level linkage of Danish nationwide administrative registers. We used Poisson regression to calculate overall and age-dependent incidence rates, incidence rate ratios, and women-to-men ratios for myocardial infarction, heart failure, ischaemic stroke, or cardiovascular death (MACE-HF). Among 218 549 (46% women) individuals with diabetes, the absolute rate of MACE-HF was higher in men than in women (24.9 vs. 19.9 per 1000 person-years). Corresponding absolute rates in men and women without diabetes were 10.1 vs. 7.0 per 1000 person-years. Comparing individuals with and without diabetes, women had higher relative rates of MACE-HF than men [2.8 (confidence interval, CI 2.9–2.9) in women vs. 2.5 (CI 2.4–2.5) in men] with a women-to-men ratio of 1.15 (CI 1.11–1.19, P < 0.001). The relative rates of MACE-HF were highest in the youngest and decreased with advancing age for both men and women, but the relative rates were higher in women across all ages, with the highest women-to-men ratio between age 50 and 60 years.
Although men have higher absolute rates of cardiovascular complications, the relative rates of cardiovascular complications associated with diabetes are higher in women than in men across all ages in the modern era.