By Ketul Chauhan, MD, FACC
Premier Heart and Vascular Center, Zephyrhills
Cholesterol is a natural part of our bodies. It’s a waxy substance that our bodies produce for specific purposes, and it’s also found in many animal-based foods.
Despite the predominant opinion, cholesterol is not inherently bad. There is more than one kind of cholesterol, and our bodies need it to create cells and regulate healing. Your health can be negatively impacted if you have too much of a very specific type of cholesterol that causes health issues, even serious ones like heart attack and congestive heart failure.
Your body knows how much cholesterol it needs to produce, and the excess usually stems from eating too many foods high in trans fats, which can stress or even damage the liver.
Increased production of cholesterol results in your blood cholesterol levels rising, especially LDL cholesterol, or the so-called “bad cholesterol.” The other type of cholesterol is the one we need to have in adequate amounts – HDL or good cholesterol. Additionally, you should also know about triglycerides – the most common type of fat in the human body. They store energy from foods, but too much of them combined with high amounts of LDL cholesterol lead to fatty buildup or narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). That, in turn, leads to higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
The Effect Diabetes Has on Cholesterol
Diabetics have a much higher chance of developing higher cholesterol levels. That, in turn, increases your chance of developing a cardiovascular disease. This explains why diabetics tend to die from heart issues like heart attacks and strokes. Around 68% of people with diabetes who are older than 65 will die from a form of heart disease.
Naturally, the chances also depend on the type of cholesterol:
- High amounts of LDL cholesterol increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Low amounts of HDL cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease
- High levels of triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease, especially when combined with either low HDL levels or high LDL cholesterol levels
Diabetics only need to stay nominally active and eat a predominantly healthy diet to easily avoid abnormal amounts of everything mentioned above.
Diabetes tends to lower good cholesterol and increase the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, a condition called diabetic dyslipidemia that can be extremely detrimental to your overall health and potentially lethal.
Therefore, it’s vital that you maintain your cholesterol levels in the normal range.
How to Prevent and Treat Abnormal Cholesterol Levels
Here’s a simple plan needs to keep your cholesterol levels in the normal ranges:
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
- Be more physically active.
- Don’t smoke.
- Keep your weight in a healthy range.
You can successfully maintain your cholesterol levels in healthy ranges and avoid the cardiovascular complications that stem from diabetes.
If you’d like to know more, feel free to contact us.