Coronary Heart Disease
What is Cholesterol?Cholesterol is a waxy form of fat held in suspension in the blood. Cholesterol being taken to the cells for use is known as LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) or 'Bad' Cholesterol.
What Can Go WrongHigh levels of LDL (Bad Cholesterol) can lead to plaque forming on the arterial walls of blood vessels. Build up of this plaque can block or reduces blood flow and may cause atherosclerosis, that is a hardening of blood arteries and increased blood pressure.
Ultimately if Cholesterol levels remain high this can lead to heart attacks, strokes and the other complications of diabetes (eye and kidney problems) that are made worse by high blood pressure.
HDL (Good Cholesterol) will normally remove some or most of this plaque. If HDL levels are low however, little of any plaque build up will be removed.
The worst case is where LDL Cholesterol is high and HDL Cholesterol is low. Treatments aim to reduce LDL 'Bad' Cholesterol levels and increase HDL 'Good' Cholesterol levels.
Recommended Cholesterol Levels for the general population
If you don't have your LDL level it can be calculated from HDL and other figures as -
LDL = Total Cholesterol - HDL - (Triglycerides/2.2)
Note that high triglyceride levels can make this calculation inaccurate.
Recommended Cholesterol Levels for diabetics (type 1 and 2)
When a diabetics levels are higher than these targets levels. Dietary measures to reduce cholesterol are suggested first.
Where dietary changes fail to reduce cholesterol sufficiently, cholesterol lowering drugs such as the Statin group of drugs may be prescribed.
These are factors like gender (males are at greater risk in certain age groups), family history of heart disease, age and some types of diabetic complications already shown.
When other risk factors apply, the advice is to be especially strict with your cholesterol levels.
Some of the other risks too, relate to lifestyle choices that are wholly or partially in the diabetics control - these are shown in the minimising the risks section at the top of this page.
Minimising the Risks
How to Improve Cholesterol Levels
A further reduction of 25%+ (some sites say up to 50%) in LDL may be achieved with drugs.
Statin type drugsStatins are generally used to lower Cholesterol Levels.
Triglycerides (or Triglicerides)Triglycerides are another form of fat held in the blood. High levels are undesirable and they are another risk factor for Heart Disease but generally considered less significant than cholesterol levels. High Triglyceride levels (above 4.0 mmol/l) can also make LDL Cholesterol readings less accurate.
Options to Reduce Triglycerides