According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, almost 24 million Americans have diabetes. Diabetes is a life-long condition that occurs when the body cannot process sugars properly, leading to high blood sugar levels. Untreated or poorly managed diabetes can lead to other conditions, like hyperlipidemia.

Diabetic hyperlipidemia is a condition where cholesterol levels in the blood are elevated. Factors that contribute to both hyperlipidemia and diabetes include:

  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Advanced age
  • Inactive lifestyle

Diabetic hyperlipidemia can cause fatty deposits in blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis—a condition where plaque builds up in artery walls, making them too narrow for blood to pass through easily. Over time, atherosclerosis can contribute to hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

There are two types of cholesterol:

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL): Known as the “bad cholesterol,” it adheres to arterial walls.
  • High density lipoproteins (HDL): Known as the “good cholesterol,” it removes excess LDL from the bloodstream, helping to protect the cardiovascular system.

Triglycerides—fats found in the blood—are also important when talking about cholesterol. High triglyceride levels can also contribute to heart problems.