Diabetics are less protected by good cholesterol

24th December 2009

The recent publication of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reveals how researchers may have found that the good cholesterol (HDL) is less protective of the heart and blood vessels in type 2 diabetes. And, sorry men, but it seems to affect you more than diabetic women.

HDL’s role in the body is to carry any cholesterol away from the heart and out of the arteries, where increased levels of “bad” cholesterol can lead to severe health problems. Whereas, high levels of HDL can actually reduce the risk of heart disease. The good cholesterol also benefits blood vessels as it repairs damage and helps them expand due to its debilitating effect on the production of damaging chemicals.

The research was conducted in the Medical School of Hannover in Germany, and the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland, where researchers compared the beneficial effects of HDL. 10 healthy volunteers were tested alongside 33 type 2 diabetic’s and sufferers of metabolic syndrome (also a condition involving low levels of HDL). Before the test was conducted the diabetes patients had been taking medication to lower their cholesterol and the results found showed the protective nature of HDL was “substantially impaired” in these patients. Researchers then conducted further tests in which the patients received either placebo or extended-release niacin; both of which are medications which increase the production of HDL cholesterol. Three months later on the diabetes patients who had been taking niacin were found to have improved functions of HDL.

Whilst the research does show a worrying factor to type two diabetes, it does also bring hope that there is a solution to this. As the researched group was so small, scientists are warning that a lot of further research needs conducting before it is deemed safe for type 2 diabetics to begin taking niacin on a regular basis.

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