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How might certain diseases or medicines affect my cholesterol level?

These health conditions may increase your risk for high cholesterol:

  • alcohol abuse
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • underactive thyroid gland, called hypothyroidism

These medicines may raise your total cholesterol level:

  • anabolic steroids
  • certain types of medicine to lower blood pressure, including: some diuretics, also called water pills some centrally acting adrenergic agents, such as clonidine and methyldopa
  • progestins

These medicines may reduce your HDL, or good, cholesterol:

  • anabolic steroids
  • some beta-blockers
  • some progestins

People with diabetes often have high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol. Also, high levels of blood glucose damage blood vessels and speed up the buildup of plaque. This increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other blood vessel problems, such as peripheral vascular disease. Some researchers think that high blood glucose makes plaque more likely to rupture or erode, further increasing your risk of heart attack. Overall, diabetes increases your risk for heart disease by three times or more. In fact, the majority of people with diabetes die from heart or blood vessel disease. If you have diabetes, it's especially important to work with your healthcare team to control your cholesterol levels and any other risk factors you have for heart disease.