Diabetes and Lowering Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol build-up can lead to many health issues
Cholesterol build-up can lead to many health issues

Most people with diabetes have heard the word cholesterol, and know that a high level is best avoided. This feature looks at lowering cholesterol and what cholesterol does to the body.

What is cholesterol and why lower it?

Cholesterol is a fatty deposit that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, particularly for people with diabetes. A buildup of cholesterol can make blood vessels narrower and more easily blocked.

Is cholesterol just bad for people with diabetes?

There are two forms of cholesterol. One is ‘bad’ cholesterol – Low Density Lipoprotein. The other helps to clear blood vessels and is ‘good’ cholesterol – High Density Lipoprotein.

How much LDL cholesterol should I aim for?

Healthcare professionals in the UK recommend that people with diabetes keep levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol under 2 millimoles per litre (mmol/L).

Furthermore, total recommended cholesterol levels should be under 4 mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes.

How is high cholesterol treated?

Controversial medication Statins lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood, although not all people with diabetes agree with their use. Statins are available on prescription. Statins include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Pravastatin (Lipostat)
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Simvastatin (Simzal, Zocor, Zocor Heart-Pro)

Some research indicates that taking a statin if you have diabetes lowers the chance of heart or circulation problems whether you have high LDL cholesterol or heart problems. However, many people with diabetes disagree with statin use – a whole topic in its own right.  

What other treatments for cholesterol are available?

Further treatment for cholesterol includes fibrates, but they are less commonly prescribed and may only be given if a statin cannot be taken. Fish oils are also thought to lower levels of unhealthy fats called triglyceride.

Fish oil could include oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and trout. Fish oil is also available in capsules.

However, one study showed has shown that fish oil could raise levels of bad cholesterol. Niacin is another older treatment for high cholesterol, which has been largely discontinued due to side effects.

Another cholesterol treatment under investigation is Ezetimibe, which stops cholesterol getting from food into the body.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding high-cholesterol food may help many people with diabetes to achieve and maintain a healthy cholesterol level.

What the community are saying about Lowering Cholesterol

  • Synonym: My cholesterol has never been raised and has not been affected by the additional cream, cheese, nuts and seeds and I am not on any medication for cholesterol even though I had strokes 4 years ago. It is all very difficult to work out what is best for us individually as we are just that - individuals!
  • Cugila: About two in three adults have a cholesterol level that is higher than recommended. Having high cholesterol affects your heart and blood vessels and increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). High cholesterol causes fatty deposits (known as plaques) to build up inside your blood vessels. In time, the blood vessels supplying your heart may become so narrow that they can't deliver enough oxygen to the heart muscle, particularly when you're exerting yourself. This can cause you to feel chest pain (angina). If a fatty plaque breaks off, it may cause a blood clot which can block blood flow to your heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke).
  • Phoenix: I don't think though you can avoid the large body of evidence that shows a clear association between high cholesterol levels and CVD and also the benfits of lowering these levels if they are too high and you have diabetes
  • M4z: My cholesterol level when I was first diagnosed was 3.4 - and is now at 3.5. I've been Type 2 since 2003 on 2000mg Metformin, 80mg [reduced to 40mg since starting Byetta] Gliclazide and recently started taking 5 mg Byetta . He was still insistent that I should start "cholesterol reducing medication". I refused, saying that as 5 is an average, I have a well below average level, and I'm quite happy with this.
  • Noblehead: I am a great believer in lowering cholesterol levels by natural means, although I know this isn't always possible in some people. The general advice is to eat a well balanced diet with ample fruit and vegetables, whilst cutting back on your saturated fat intake.
Explore Lowering Cholesterol
Your Comments
 
I have an ongoing resistance to statins with my GP, as nice as she is, she insists that 3.4 is too high for a diabetic, but I think she is using the Type one recommendation, as it seems under 5 should be ok for type 2 diabetics. I have watched a TV programme about statins and not heard too many good things about them to want to take them. I have always considered myself a healthy eater, and was really upset to learn that my levels were high! Doing my utmost to keep levels low by diet only and have been taking Benecol drinks since my last visit to GP, to see if this helps. I drink skinny lattes and use 1 per cent milk, hopefully this will help!
Posted by HpprKM, Kent on Friday, May 14, 2010
My cholesterol stayed constant for 5 years at 5.3. Then when diagnosed with T2 diabetes I was given Simvastatin for a few months and it dropped to 4. BUT I was ill and the statins made me 50 times worse, delaying my return to work for 2 months. I know this as as soon as I gave up the statins I felt much, much better. No aches and pains anymore. I have managed to avoid the statins for a couple of years but now my cholesterol is 5.7. Doc wants me to take lipitor and I cant face the side effects. Being diabetic is bad enough and I do eat well and look after myself. Like M4z s good balanced diet. Not sure what to do now..
Posted by Lizziebeth, Suffolk on Thursday, May 13, 2010
I found an article on the internet regarding coconut oil and tried it using a cheaply available KTC brand sold as pure creamed coconut. In the package only the pure white solid lard type substance is used comprising about 30 grams. The trial convinced me that it was beneficial so I researched further. On the net is a web site selling "coconoil" which comes in a tub of 430 grams for £8.99 or 3 for £19.99 both post free. A couple of tea spoons full a day brought my HBA1C (cholesterol) down from 4.7 to 3.9 over a three month period. My nurse is now very interested to see what my next reading - in 6 months - I'm convinced!
Posted by ronjo94, United Kingdom on Thursday, May 13, 2010
Home remedy such as corriander seeds helped my husband to lower bad cholesterol, boiling 2-3 tablespoon of seeds in 2 cups of water untill reduced to one, strain out the water and drunk first thing in the morning before brushing teeth, now he is completly out of medication. Juice of corriander leaves drunk first thing in the morning also helps lowering cholesterol and and lowers blood sugar, I have tried it to lower my blood sugar and it helped.
Posted by Shiv, Tanzania on Thursday, May 13, 2010
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