Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How does diabetes affect my risk for high cholesterol?

Untreated or poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a number of serious health problems, including heart and blood vessel disease. Even if you have your diabetes under control, you're at greater risk for heart attack and stroke than someone who does not have diabetes. This is because diabetes damages blood vessels and increases triglyceride levels. It also decreases HDL - the good cholesterol. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure and are overweight. These are two more risk factors for heart disease.

How to Reduce Your Risk

Take these actions to have a healthier heart.

  • Have regular checkups to make sure you're keeping your blood glucose under control.
  • If you don't know your blood cholesterol level, have it tested. Your goal, according to the newest May 2001 National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines is to have an LDL - or bad - cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL.
  • Talk with your doctor about your risk for heart attack. People who have diabetes are more likely to die if they have a heart attack so they need to take intensive steps to prevent that from occurring.
  • Work with your healthcare team to stay on a healthy, low-fat diet.
  • Work with your healthcare team to get and stay on a program of regular physical activity.

To learn more about cholesterol and heart health, visit the following links: