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Diabetes and Cholesterol

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Most of us living with diabetes know that living with uncontrolled blood glucose values (BG) increases our risk for long term complications. Tight BG control is essential to reduce long term complications.

A person living with diabetes should not overlook their cholesterol levels. Long-term complications from cardiovascular disease are also prevalent with those living with both Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

According to The Cleveland Clinic’s research from The National Cholesterol Education Program's Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults, it is extremely important for everyone — men and women of every age, with or without known heart disease — to have a low LDL cholesterol level.

The fact is, elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, is a major cause of heart disease. LDL causes the build-up of fatty deposits within your arteries, reducing or blocking the flow of blood and oxygen your heart needs. This can lead to chest pain and heart attack.

Atherosclerosis, the medical term for "hardening of the arteries," is not limited to heart arteries, though. It also occurs in arteries elsewhere in your body, causing problems such as stroke, kidney failure and poor circulation.

According to diabeticlifestyle.com, if you're living with diabetes, your numbers should be:

• Total triglycerides: below 200 mg/dl

• HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol): above 45 mg/dl

• LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol): below 100 mg/dl

There are significant risk factors for developing high cholesterol. These are mostly controllable:

• Inactivity — Lack of exercise may lower your levels of good cholesterol HDL.

• Obesity — Excess weight increases your level of triglycerides and can lower HDL. It can also increase your level of very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

• Diet — Eating a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet contributes to an increase in blood cholesterol level. Even polyunsaturated fats are susceptible to oxidation and over time, speed buildup of plaque inside arteries.

Other factors that increase your likelihood of high cholesterol:

• Smoking — This damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them prone to the accumulation of deposits. It also lowers levels of HDL as much as 15 percent.

• High blood pressure — This damages the walls of your arteries so that it becomes easier to accumulate fatty deposits.

• Family history of atherosclerosis — If a close relative (parent or sibling) has developed atherosclerosis before age 45, high cholesterol levels place you at a greater risk than average for developing atherosclerosis.

If you are living with diabetes, consult your physician. Know your cholesterol levels and talk with your doctor about treatment options, either lifestyle modifications or medication.

By Marianne Tetlow “The Diabetes Coach”
The Diabetes Coach is a comprehensive resource and consulting group for individuals or families with a loved one dealing with diabetes. “Helping You To Move Forward While Managing the Ups and Downs”


“Cholesterol and Diabetes” www.diabeticlifestyle.com. Web July 25, 2012

“Cholesterol guidelines” www.clevelandclinic.org . Web July 25, 2012

Reviewed July 26, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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