Preventing Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes

To reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease, people with diabetes need to control their ABCs:

  • Maintain HbA1c below 7%
  • Keep blood pressure lower than 130/80 mm Hg
  • Aim for an LDL ("bad") cholesterol level below 100 mg/dL (and ideally below 70 mg/dL).

You may be able to achieve these goals through diet and exercise alone, but most people require medication. Other steps you can take to reduce your risk include quitting smoking, taking an aspirin every day (only with a doctor's advice), keeping triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dL, and increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol levels to higher than 40 mg/dL (for men) or 50 mg/dL (for women).

Publication Review By: Written by: Christopher D. Saudek, M.D.; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 21 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015