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For the millions of Americans living with type 2 diabetes, a combination of diet, exercise and medication can help them control the condition.
But even those who are doing everything right to manage their diabetes may be at higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke -- if they fail to also treat their high "bad" cholesterol.
"It is estimated that more than half of adults with diabetes also have high cholesterol, which makes it imperative to treat both conditions, side-by-side," said Dr. Sergio Rovner.
Rovner is an assistant professor at the Family Practice Department at Texas Tech Health Science Center and an endocrinologist in private practice at the Academy of Diabetes, Thyroid and Endocrine in El Paso, Texas.
The diabetes and high "bad" cholesterol connection
Type 2 diabetes and high "bad" cholesterol are closely connected.
Having type 2 diabetes can cause the body to be more susceptible to developing high "bad" cholesterol.
And, vice versa. Having high "bad' cholesterol levels also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is a chronic disease characterized by high glucose levels that occur because the body does not properly use insulin that is made, and over time some people with type 2 diabetes may lose the ability to make insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with older age, obesity, a history (either gestational or family history) of diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and ethnicity.
Some ethnic groups such as Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, 12 percent of Hispanics older than 20 have diabetes, as compared to eight percent of the general population, the CDC reports.
And, this number is expected to increase by nearly 130 percent within the next 30 years. Factors that put Hispanics at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes include differences in genetic makeup, social and cultural factors, and access to quality health care.
Cholesterol, a waxy fat-like substance, is necessary for normal body function, but when too much of a certain kind -- LDL or "bad" cholesterol -- builds up, it can block arteries and contribute to heart disease and stroke.
Many of the lifestyle changes that can help treat type 2 diabetes -- increased physical activity, diet control -- also are good for your cholesterol.
If you are affected with both type 2 diabetes and high "bad" cholesterol, it's important to treat these conditions in tandem.
Treating in tandem
While eating healthier and exercising more are initial ways to treat both type 2 diabetes and high "bad" cholesterol, medication is often needed.
One medication that people may want to ask their doctor about is Welchol (colesevelam hydrochloride) because it is the only FDA-approved prescription medication with one active ingredient that lowers both A1C levels and "bad" cholesterol levels in adults.
The most common side effects seen in patients taking Welchol were constipation, indigestion and nausea. Welchol has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks.
If you have type 2 diabetes, be sure to talk to your doctor about cholesterol control and managing your diabetes.
Your doctor can advise you on what treatment is best for you. To learn more about diabetes and cholesterol, visit www.diabetes.org.
To learn more about Welchol, visit www.welchol.com or speak to your doctor.
Type 2 diabetes and high "bad" cholesterol are closely connected. If you suffer from both conditions, it's important to treat both in tandem.