Hyperlipidemia is an umbrella term for abnormally high levels of lipids in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides. Type 2 diabetes, a disorder involving high blood sugar that does not require daily insulin, is associated with a high risk for hyperlipidemia.
Lipids include fats, oils and waxes. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, tends to deposit cholesterol plaques in artery walls, while the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) type carries cholesterol to the liver to be removed from the blood.
People with diabetes tend to have low levels of HDL cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, which, like LDL cholesterol, are associated with heart disease.
Type 2 diabetes patients commonly continue having problems with high cholesterol or high triglycerides even when their blood-sugar levels improve, as noted by a study published in the October 1998 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Hyperlipidemia does not cause symptoms until it reaches the danger stage of a stroke or heart attack. It must be diagnosed with a blood test. Diabetes has symptoms of noticeably increased thirst and urination, and fatigue.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults with diabetes maintain a LDL cholesterol level lower than 100 mg/dl, and a triglyceride level lower than 150 mg/dl.
Diet, weight loss and exercise, in addition to blood-glucose control, can help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as noted by the Mayo Clinic study. Medication is advised when these methods do not provide significant improvement.