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How Diabetes Affects the Heart

Diabetic Cholesterol Risk

We all know that high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. But do you know the types of cholesterol and each one's effect on the heart? If not, read closely.

HDL Cholesterol

HDL (for "high-density lipoprotein") cholesterol is often described as the "good" kind, but what's so great about it? The liver makes cholesterol, which the body uses in a variety of roles, such as repairing cell walls. LDL (for "low-density lipoprotein") carries cholesterol around the body, but the process can get sloppy, with the fatty substance getting spilled here and there, slowly accumulating on artery walls.


That's why the liver also makes HDL, which acts like a DustBuster for the blood. HDL molecules travel around, sucking up leftover cholesterol, which it drags back to the liver to be eliminated. People who have high levels of HDL cholesterol have fewer heart attacks than people who have low levels.

Heavy-duty LDL Cholesterol

Although elevated LDL cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart disease, people with diabetes don't necessarily have too much of the fatty stuff. However, diabetes patients often have an especially sinister version of the so-called "bad" cholesterol. LDL cholesterol comes in several varieties. Some particles are puffy and buoyant, while others are small and dense. While puffy particles tend to float around in the blood, research suggests that small, dense particles are more likely to lodge in the arteries and form potentially deadly plaques. Unfortunately, people who have type 2 diabetes often have unusually high concentrations of these small, dense LDL particles in their blood.


When you eat more food than your body needs for energy, the leftovers are stored as triglycerides, a form of fat. You burn triglycerides as backup energy between meals, but high levels of this blood fat have been linked to heart disease.

Blood clots can cause a heart attack or a stroke. Learn more about the relationship between blood clots and diabetes on the next page.

For more information on diabetes and its effect on the heart, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.