Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol, diabetes often lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and raises LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. The ideal LDL cholesterol level is under 100mg/dL anything over 130mg/dL is classed as elevated.
Why Do Diabetics Get High Cholesterol?
For most people, eating a healthy, balanced diet and being physically active is enough to keep cholesterol levels healthy. But for people with diabetes, high cholesterol is often a common side effect of diabetes. A study in 2002 reported that diabetes seems to either increase the production of cholesterol in the body or reduce its absorption so that more of it stayed in the blood. In another study, they found that blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol all interact with each other in the body and are affected by each other.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the liver and also found in foods such as butter, red meat, and high-fat cheese. Cholesterol is found in the blood and is essential in our bodies for our cells to function and to make vitamin D and some hormones, it becomes a problem when it gets too high.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) If there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it can slowly build in the arteries, making them narrower.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) It helps to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and returns it to the liver where it is broken down and passed out of the body.
What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be?
As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
- 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As a general guide, LDL levels should be:
- 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol has no symptoms. A cholesterol test will be done on your annual diabetes check-up.
Complications From High Cholesterol
If left untreated, plaque will build up in your arteries. This plaque can narrow your arteries causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can result in many life-threatening complications, such as:
- Heart Attack
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Eye Damage
Treatment For High Cholesterol
Because of the risk of high cholesterol, most diabetics will be given medication from your doctor.
The medication could be any of the following:
- Statins. Statins block a substance your liver needs to make cholesterol.
- Bile-acid-binding resins. This prompts your liver to use excess cholesterol to make more bile acids, which reduces the level of cholesterol in your blood.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors. Helps reduce blood cholesterol by limiting the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Ezet
- Injectable medications. A new class of drugs which help the liver absorb more LDL cholesterol, it may be used for people who have a condition that causes very high levels of LDL or in people who have an intolerance to statins or other cholesterol medications.
What You Can Do To Help
To help prevent high cholesterol, you can:
- Eat a low-salt diet that includes many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Limit the number of animal fats and use good fats in moderation
- Lose weight
- Do not smoke
Few natural products have been proven to reduce cholesterol, but some might be helpful, consider these cholesterol-lowering supplements and products:
Cholesterol is important for us it keeps our cells healthy, but if cholesterol is too high it can be very dangerous for diabetics.
If you are prescribed a medication for high cholesterol it’s important you take it regularly and have your cholesterol levels tested on your annual diabetic visit with your doctor.