The Diabetes ABCs
It’s important for people with diabetes to know their “ABCs”
A = A1c
The A1c is a blood test done by your doctor that measures the average of your blood sugar for a two to three month period. This test along with daily monitoring of your blood sugar is the best way to know how well controlled your diabetes is. A normal A1C is 4-6 percent for the person without diabetes. For people with diabetes:
- Good control is measured at 6-7 percent, which isequal to an average daily blood sugar of 150-180.
- A need to make changes is measured at 7-8 percent.
- A potential danger is measured above 8 percent. This level isequal to a daily average blood sugar of over 200. So no longer can we say that keeping the blood sugar around 200 is okay— you are causing damage to your body at this level.
This test should be done every six months if you are in good control and every three months if you are not in good control.
B = Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure (hypertension) often occurs with diabetes. With diabetes, your blood pressure should be less than 130/80. If your blood pressure is higher than this, you may be damaging many of your body’s organs.
C = Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs, and meat. People with diabetes should have their blood cholesterol checked at least once every year. Since having diabetes already puts you at risk for heart disease, it's especially important to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Your overall cholesterol level needs to be under 200 but more importantly is the types of cholesterol.
- Low density lipoproteins (LDL): LDL, also called "bad" cholesterol, can cause buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. The more LDL there is in the blood, the greater the risk of heart disease.
- High density lipoproteins (HDL): HDL, also called "good" cholesterol, helps the body get rid of bad cholesterol in the blood. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better. If your levels of HDL are low, your risk of heart disease increases.
How can I manage my diabetes?
It is important to remember “who” has the responsibility to manage diabetes. Diabetes management can only be done by the person who has the disease. Your family, doctor, diabetes educator or nutritionist are members of the health care team who can advise you. Training in self-management is important for the treatment of diabetes. Talk with your doctor about how you can learn more about self-management.
There's a lot to consider to manage your diabetes. How you care for yourself every day can make a difference in how you feel and how successful you are in preventing the complications of diabetes. There are seven important self-care behaviors to manage diabetes. They are:
- Eat healthy foods: What you put in your mouth every day adds up over time. When you have diabetes it is important to monitor not only your carbohydrate intake but also your fat intake. Carbohydrates include sweets, starches, fruit, milk, and starch vegetables.
- Be active: People with diabetes should strive to do some type of physical activity every day.
- Manage your stress: Everyone has stress and each of us must find ways to deal with stress.
- Prevent high and low blood glucose:
- Low blood
- High blood glucose over time is what causes the complications of diabetes.
- glucoses make a person with diabetes feel terrible. Low blood glucoses while a person is driving can cause accidents. Low blood glucose can cause strokes and heart attacks in older people.
- Check your blood sugar: This is the best way to know how well you are balancing your eating, physical activity and medications.
- Take medicines: Because diabetes is caused by insulin resistance or lack of insulin, you must take your medicines daily and as ordered.
- Reduce risks of complications: Practice these first six self-care behaviors to help you reduce complications, but you also need to get regular check ups and pay particular attention to your body to prevent complications.