Some doctors’ health advice for all those with type 2 diabetes: protect yourself from heart attacks and stroke by increasing your levels of HDL cholesterol. That’s the good kind. The new study is just published in the “American Journal of Cardiology.”
The huge study examined the medical records of more than 30,000 patients with diabetes. It found that patients whose HDL levels decreased had more heart attacks and strokes. Diabetics are more prone to heart disease, with a lifetime risk as high as 87%. We know quite well that lowering LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind) can reduce risk of heart disease. But the HDL link is less clear.
The good news is that raising good cholesterol levels is one more way for these patients to reduce their inflated risk for heart disease.
Participants had several HDL measurements within two years and 61% had no significant change. In 22%, HDL levels increased by at least 6.5 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter of blood). In 17%, HDL levels decreased by at least that same amount.
Researchers then followed the patients for up to eight years to see what happened. Those whose HDL levels increased had eight percent fewer heart attacks and strokes than patients whose HDL levels remained the same. Those whose HDL levels dropped were 11% more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.
Past studies on this topic have reached contradictory conclusions. A 2009 study found that for every five mg/dl improvement in HDL cholesterol, patients saw a 21% decrease in heart attack risk. But then another review that year found that increasing HDL cholesterol did not reduce the risk of heart disease or death.
In any case, it is a good idea to attempt to raise HDL levels (see How to Boost Your Good Cholesterol Levels), because they are healthful for all of us. People can raise them without drugs by keeping their weight down, changing their diet, avoiding tobacco smoke, and exercising often.
Medical experts believe that HDL or good cholesterol carries the bad cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver where it is processed and passed from the body.
Another Health Concern for Diabetics
“Raising ‘good’ cholesterol levels reduces heart attack and
stroke risk in diabetes patients,” Kaiser Permanente, Oct. 7,