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Cholesterol and Diabetes

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. Cholesterol levels are checked with a blood test.

Cholesterol comes from your body and from food.

LDL and HDL are 2 types of cholesterol in your blood.

LDL or "bad" cholesterol

  • Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood can build up in your arteries and form plaque. This buildup of plaque can cause your blood vessels to harden. This can increase your risk of having heart disease.

HDL or "good" cholesterol

  • HDL is often called “good” because it can carry “bad” cholesterol away from the walls of your arteries. A high level of HDL may be linked with a lower risk of having heart disease.

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Lowering your LDL cholesterol can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. Your body uses triglycerides as a source of energy or stores them as fat.

Having high levels of triglycerides is usually not good for your health. If your triglyceride level is high, it usually means you also have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

What are the recommended goals for cholesterol and triglycerides?

The American Diabetes Association suggests that the following goals are good for most people with diabetes:

  • LDL cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol more than 40 mg/dL for men and more than 50 mg/dL for women
  • Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL

Your health care provider will set goals that are right for you.

Why is achieving goals for cholesterol and triglycerides important?

By managing your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes.

Remember, it is good to have

  • Lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Higher HDL cholesterol

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Ask your health care provider what is the best way you can help prevent heart disease.

How can I help reach my goals for cholesterol and triglycerides?

If your cholesterol and triglycerides are too high, talk to your health care provider. Changes you can make include

  • Be more active. Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week spread over at least 3 days. Always talk to your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
  • Eat foods high in fiber. Eat low-cholesterol, low-fat foods, such as
  • Avoid foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Losing weight can help lower your triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Take your cholesterol medicines the way your health care provider tells you.

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Talk to your health care provider before you take any medicines or over-the-counter pills, including vitamins and herbal supplements.

You and your health care provider will set goals that are right for you to help avoid future health problems. Taking care of your diabetes means more than just keeping your blood sugar under control.

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Sometimes, tests and results may be confusing. Ask your health care provider if you have questions about the results.

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