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Type 2 Diabetes: Cholesterol Levels

Topic Overview

Abnormal levels of fats (lipids) in the blood are twice as common in people with type 2 diabetes as in people who do not have the disease. Obesity, insulin resistance, and high levels of insulin cause several lipid abnormalities.

  • Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) blood levels can be normal to high.
  • Triglyceride blood levels are usually elevated.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) blood level is usually low.
  • Blood levels of lipoprotein a (Lp a), a type of LDL, are also increased in people who have diabetes. Lp a has been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease in people who do not have diabetes. But its relationship to heart disease in people with diabetes is unknown.

The combination of low HDL and high LDL puts people who have diabetes at higher risk for macrovascular disease. These cholesterol abnormalities can improve with good control of blood sugar levels.

Regular exercise and weight loss can improve your cholesterol levels. Lack of exercise is linked with higher triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol. Taking medicines called statins can further reduce the level of LDL.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Last Revised July 1, 2011

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