Lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc) in type 2 diabetes mellitus is of paramount importance in preventing cardiovascular disease. However, treatment targets for LDLc are often not reached. We studied the prevalence of LDLc target achievement in a real-life population of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients in secondary care, and investigated whether in those not on target, there is room for intensifying pharmacological and lifestyle management according to current treatment guidelines.
We performed a cross-sectional analysis in the DIAbetes and LifEstyle Cohort Twente-1 (DIALECT-1; n = 450, age 63 ± 9 years, 58% men, diabetes duration 11 (7–18) years). At baseline, we determined plasma LDLc concentration, pharmacological treatment (i.e., statin use), and lifestyle (physical activity and dietary intake). Patients were divided according to LDLc < 1.8, LDLc 1.8–2.5, and LDLc > 2.5 mmol/l. Dietary intake was collected from a validated Food Frequency Questionnaire (177 items) and we determined guideline adherence for different food groups. Physical activity was assessed with the Short Questionnaire to ASsess Health enhancing behavior.
LDLc data were available in 428 type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. LDLc ≤ 2.5 mmol/l was achieved in 317 patients (76%). In total, 76% of patients used statins, in those with LDLc > 2.5 mmol/l, this was 44%. Adherence to lifestyle guidelines was not different between the LDLc groups and was as follows: body mass index 6%, physical activity 59%, vegetables 7%, fruit 28%, legumes 59%, nuts 14%, dairy 19%, fish 36%, tea 8%, fats 66%, red meat 12%, processed meat 2%, alcohol 71%, sweetened beverages 34%, and sodium 12%.
In type 2 diabetes mellitus patients in secondary health care, the target LDLc is achieved by three quarters of patients. Increasing statin treatment could be a first step to improve LDLc. In addition, there are ample opportunities for lifestyle management through increasing adherence to lifestyle guidelines.