Cardiovascular Disease - Diabetes Complications and Prevention

There are six things you can do to prevent cardiovascular disease:

  •   stop smoking
  •   lower your cholesterol levels
  •   lower high blood pressure
  •   lower high blood glucose levels
  •   exercise
  •   ask your provider if taking aspirin will benefit you

All of these actions will help keep your large blood vessels open for blood to flow to all your vital organs, and you will lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease dramatically.

Blood Lipid Abnormalities
Abnormal lipid profiles are quite common in diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. Lipid abnormalities, hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes seem to go hand in hand. That has led researchers to ask whether lipid abnormalities are the result of obesity, and ultimately, type 2 diabetes. If you and other family members have severely high levels of cholesterol and other blood fats, you may have a lipid disorder that is not related to diabetes.

There are several kinds of lipids in your blood. HDL cholesterol is sometimes called good or “helpful” cholesterol. This lipid helps remove deposits from the insides of your blood vessels and keeps them from getting blocked. The target levels for HDL cholesterol in your blood are above 40 mg/dl for men and above 50 mg/dl for women. You can raise your HDL cholesterol level by getting more exercise, avoiding saturated fats, choosing more omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and lowering your triglyceride levels.

LDL, or bad, cholesterol can narrow or block your blood vessels, which can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. The target level for LDL cholesterol in your blood is below 100 mg/dl. High levels of LDL cholesterol are usually treated with medications called statins.

Triglycerides are another kind of lipid in the blood. It is recommended that you keep your triglyceride level below 150 mg/dl. Triglyceride levels are closely linked to blood glucose levels and can usually be lowered by making these changes:

  •   lowering your blood glucose levels
  •   losing weight
  •   increasing physical activity
  •   eating a healthy, low-fat, high-fiber diet
  •   taking medications called fibrates

A visit with a dietitian can help you make healthy food choices.

Here are some things to consider if you are prescribed drugs to lower blood lipids and cholesterol:

  •   Watch carefully for changes in your blood glucose levels; even if you have type 2 diabetes, you may want to monitor your blood glucose level several times each day.
  •   Start new drugs one at a time, if possible; some medications can interfere with the breakdown, absorption, and removal of other medicines.
  •   Know that many kinds of medications are used to treat high lipid levels and that side effects may occur; report anything unusual to your provider.
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