Scientists have found diabetic women are at higher risk of a stroke than diabetic men, who might be diagnosed at an earlier stage of the disease.

Diabetic women are at far higher risk of suffering a stroke than diabetic men, according to a major international study involving Australian scientists.

The study assesses the medical history of hundreds of thousands of people in several countries and is the first to show the gender danger for stroke.

It complements previous studies that show diabetic women have a greater risk of suffering a heart attack than men.

“We don’t yet understand why diabetes is more hazardous for women compared with men, but existing studies suggest it may be linked to obesity,” says Professor Rachel Huxley from the University of Queensland.

“Men tend to become diabetic at lower levels of body mass index compared with women,” says Prof Huxley, who worked with researchers from the University of Cambridge and Australia’s George Institute for Global Health.

This means men might be diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage of the disease, which includes a review of data from more than 12,000 stroke victims in countries including Australia, Japan, the United States, Scotland and Finland.

An estimated 347 million people worldwide have diabetes.

This is expected to increase by 50 per cent over the next decade as people gain weight and become less active.

The research adds to evidence that men and women experience diabetes-related diseases differently, which could mean they gender-specific screening is needed, says a Lancet medical journal article about the study.