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Patients with diabetes need to monitor their blood fat levels as well as their blood sugar levels, because they are at risk of nerve damage or even loss, according to a study appearing in the research journal Diabetes.
"In our study, elevated serum triglycerides were the most accurate at predicting nerve fiber loss, compared to all other measures," said study co-author Kelli A. Sullivan, an assistant research professor in neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School.
The condition, called neuropathy, can result in numbness, tingling and pain in the hands, arms, legs and feet.
The researchers noted a simple blood test for triglycerides can help identify patients most at risk for neuropathy, which affects about 60 percent of patients with diabetes, according to the study.
Dr Eva L. Feldman, a professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School, said that this data suggests clinicians should focus on lowering blood triglyceride counts in patients with diabetes. This can be accomplished through many of the same techniques that are used to lower cholesterol levels, such as diet and exercise.
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