Some people have misconceptions about cholesterol and diabetes. Are you one of them? This article debunks common myths and sets the facts straight about cholesterol.
Myth: Blood sugar and blood cholesterol are unrelated.
Fact: Having high blood sugar over time can increase the risk for heart and blood vessel disease. Keeping your blood sugar level under control can help prevent blood vessel damage that leads to high cholesterol and can reduce your risk for heart and blood vessel disease.
Myth: If you take cholesterol medicine, you can eat whatever you want and don’t need to make any changes.
Fact: Cholesterol medicine is an important treatment for high cholesterol, and your doctor might recommend it if you have diabetes and high cholesterol. But lowering your cholesterol doesn’t stop there. It is important to eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise 150 minutes each week, lose weight if you are overweight, and quit smoking, if you smoke. These changes may have the added benefit of improving your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Myth: All cholesterol is bad.
Fact: Your body actually needs some cholesterol to stay healthy and work properly, and there are both “good” and “bad” types. LDL cholesterol is called “bad” cholesterol because it can build up and narrow your blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart attack or stroke. HDL cholesterol is considered “good” because it removes LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. High levels of HDL cholesterol and low levels of LDL cholesterol can reduce your risk for heart disease. People with diabetes often have unhealthy cholesterol levels. If you have diabetes, it is recommended you have your cholesterol checked every year (more often if you have high cholesterol, and less often if your levels are normal).
Myth: I am thin so I don’t need to worry about my cholesterol.
Fact: While being overweight is a risk factor for high cholesterol, being thin does not mean you can ignore your cholesterol levels. If you have diabetes or a family history of high cholesterol, you are more likely to develop high cholesterol. Your age, gender, and race also affect your cholesterol levels. In addition, smoking, eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats, or getting little physical activity increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.
Myth: I’m not having symptoms, so I don’t need to treat my high cholesterol.
Fact: Symptoms of high cholesterol may not be noticeable until the problem is serious. Not treating cholesterol can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Questions about cholesterol or cholesterol medications? Talk to your healthcare provider or your Rite Aid Pharmacist.
Cholesterol Abnormalities and Diabetes, American Heart Association
Common Misconceptions About Cholesterol, American Heart Association
Conditions that Increase Risk for High Cholesterol, Centers for Disease Control
Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease, Joslin Diabetes Center
Diabetes and Cholesterol, Joslin Diabetes Center
Taking Care of Your Diabetes Means Taking Care of Your Heart, National Diabetes Education Program
Know Your Diabetes ABC’s, National Diabetes Education Program
Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2015, American Diabetes Association