4 Monitoring lipid levels
Another common blood test that is often taken at the same time as the venous blood sample for HbA1c is for the lipid profile. Lipids are fats, and they can be found in the blood. The target for ideal blood lipid level has changed recently, as new evidence is gathered from research. This test measures the total level of cholesterol in the blood, what proportion of that cholesterol is made up of LDL (low-density, harmful, lipoprotein) cholesterol and HDL (high-density, protective, lipoprotein) cholesterol, and the level of another type of fat called triglycerides. Abnormally high levels of lipids, in particular triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and low levels of the protective HDL cholesterol, are common in people with Type 2 diabetes. This abnormal profile is termed diabetic dyslipidaemia and increases the risk of CHD, and so these factors are checked at least annually to ensure the results are well within the normal range. Drug treatment is recommended, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, to reduce the person's risk of CHD by trying to achieve as near normal a level of blood lipids as possible. The treatment includes drugs called statins and fibrates. The proportions of the different lipids in the blood determine the GP's choice of medication.
Activity 5 Finding out about cholesterol levels
Do you know what your cholesterol level is? Ask some of your friends and colleagues if they know their levels.
You may be surprised at how many people know their cholesterol level. People without diabetes can have abnormal cholesterol levels too, and there is an increased public awareness nowadays of the risk of a raised cholesterol level. (Ideally, the level of total-cholesterol should be about 5 mmol/l.) Some pharmacists offer on-the-spot cholesterol tests, which anyone can use. If someone has high blood pressure, for example, his or her practice nurse may also have checked their cholesterol as part of their CHD risk profile.