If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you know that controlling your blood sugar levels is important. The more you can keep these levels down, the lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for developing high cholesterol. As you watch your blood sugar numbers, watch your cholesterol numbers too.
Here, we explain why these two conditions often show up together, and how you can manage both with practical lifestyle approaches.
If you have both diabetes and high cholesterol, you’re not alone. The American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source states that diabetes often lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels and raises triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Both of these increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
As a reminder:
- An LDL cholesterol level under 100 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) is considered ideal.
- 100–129 mg/dL is close to ideal.
- 130–159 mg/dL is borderline elevated.
High cholesterol levels can be dangerous. Cholesterol is a type of fat that can build up inside the arteries. Over time, it can harden to form a stiff plaque. That damages arteries, making them stiff and narrow and inhibiting blood flow. The heart has to work harder to pump blood, and risk for heart attack and stroke go up.
Researchers don’t have all the answers yet and continue to grapple with how diabetes and high cholesterol are related. In one study published in The Journal of Lipid ResearchTrusted Source, they found that blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol all interact with each other in the body, and are affected by each other. They just weren’t sure exactly how.
Meanwhile, what’s important is that you’re aware of the combination between the two. Even if you keep your blood sugar levels under control, your LDL cholesterol levels may still go up. However, you can control both of these conditions with medications and good lifestyle habits.
The main goal is to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you follow these seven tips, you’ll be giving your body what it needs to stay healthy and active.