Diabetes and Your Heart

For people with diabetes, heart disease is the leading cause of death. Major causes of heart disease are high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which are common in people with diabetes.

You can help lower your risk for heart disease by doing the following:


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

Cholesterol and diabetes

Cholesterol is a soft and waxy substance in your body. Everyone’s body makes cholesterol. Cholesterol also comes from the foods you eat.

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.

Check your cholesterol levels at least once a year. Your health care provider will explain that you should not eat before this test. This is called fasting.

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.

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

Ask your health care provider for your cholesterol and triglyceride goals.


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

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