Type 1 Diabetes: Cholesterol Levels

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Type 1 Diabetes: Cholesterol Levels

Topic Overview

Cholesterol (or lipid) problems in people with type 1 diabetes are usually related to the lack of insulin.

  • Lack of insulin increases the level of triglycerides. Normally, insulin makes a certain enzyme that removes triglycerides from the blood. When insulin is used to treat high blood sugar, the triglyceride level goes back to normal.
  • A lack of insulin (and the high blood sugar that results) raises the level of "bad" cholesterol (LDL, or low-density lipoprotein). It returns to normal when insulin is given.

Data from the Diabetes Complications and Control Trial (DCCT) showed that people with type 1 diabetes had a lower incidence of heart disease when their blood sugars were kept within a target range. 1

This does not apply to people with nephropathy, because once the kidney starts losing even small amounts of protein, cholesterol problems begin to develop.

References

Citations

  1. Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study Research Group (2005). Intensive diabetes treatment and cardiovascular disease in patients with type 1 diabetes. New England Journal of Medicine, 353(25): 2634–2653.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised January 13, 2011

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