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Diabetes: Cholesterol Levels

Topic Overview

Cholesterol (or lipid) problems are common in diabetes. These problems are usually related to obesity and insulin resistance. They can also be related to lack of insulin in your body.

These abnormal triglyceride and HDL levels can raise your risk for the problems that affect the large blood vessels. When blood vessels that supply the brain and heart are affected, a stroke or heart attack may occur. When the large blood vessels in the legs are affected, problems with blood circulation to the legs and feet may occur. This can cause changes in skin color, decreased sensation, and leg cramps. This type of problem is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Cholesterol problems may also develop if you have diabetic nephropathy, even in the early stages when your kidney is losing small amounts of protein.

Regular exercise, weight loss, and diabetes medicine can improve your cholesterol levels. You might also take a medicine, such as a statin, to improve your cholesterol.

Click here to view a Decision Point.High Cholesterol: Should I Take Stains?

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised July 16, 2013

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