Lipids: Om P. Ganda, M.D.
Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death for people with diabetes.
Research indicates that high levels of lipids, also known as blood fats (including cholesterol), increase the risk of heart disease.
The Joslin Guidelines recommend that you have a lipid profile screening at least once a year. A lipid profile screening measures your LDL and HDL cholesterol as well as your triglycerides.
The most important factor is LDL, or bad cholesterol. You need to get this number as low as possible because it is the most important factor for causing cardiovascular disease.
If you don't have a history of heart problems, you should aim for an LDL level of less than 100.
If you already have a history of heart disease, stroke or vascular disease, you should aim even lower-70 or below. The greater the risk factors, the lower the LDL should be. Every 40 mg decrease in LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications by 20 to 30 percent.
After achieving your LDL goals, you should work with your doctor to raise your HDL-also called good cholesterol-to more than 40 for men, and more than 50 for women. At the same time, you should aim to lower triglycerides-another bad fat-to under 150.
Lipid abnormalities can be modified through a nutrition plan and weight loss, physical activity, good blood glucose control and a range of medications available today.
Although there's no guaranteed way to avoid heart disease, here at Joslin our ongoing research takes place at multiple levels concerning the treatment and management of diabetes. You can cut your risk of heart disease through lower LDL levels and by keeping your A1C, blood pressure and other factors within the recommended ranges.
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