'Good' cholesterol levels could cut heart attack, stroke risk among diabetes patients

PORTLAND, Ore. — It seems that boosting high-density lipoproteins levels, also known as "good" cholesterol, can help diabetes patients reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a new study conducted by Kaiser Permanente published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Examining the records of 30,067 patients with diabetes that entered Kaiser Permanente diabetes registries across Oregon, Washington and Georgia between 2001 and 2006, researchers noted that the patients had at least two HDL cholesterol measurements between six to 24 months apart. Following up eight years later, they found that patients with increased HDL levels (22% had increased levels during their initial measurements) had 8% fewer heart attacks and strokes, compared with those whose HDL levels remained the same. Similarly, those patients with decreased HDL levels experienced 11% more heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers noted that while many patients in the study were on statins to reduce their low-density lipoproteins levels (LDL levels), or "bad" cholesterol, few were on medications to boost HDL.

"Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that raising HDL levels may be an important strategy for reducing heart attack risk," said Gregory Nichols, lead study author and senior investigator with Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

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