People don’t die from type 2 diabetes, they die from its complications, including heart disease and stroke. If you’re living with type 2 you are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease or stroke. It’s a serious risk.
Nearly two-thirds of all American seniors with diabetes die from preventable health complications. This is why it’s so important to manage diabetes by monitoring the A-B-C health signals:
- “A” — A1c (average blood sugar level)
- “B” — Blood Pressure
- “C” — Cholesterol
The Hemoglobin A1C Test
Your doctor uses a blood test, called A1C, that measures your average blood sugar over a 60 to 90 day period. This time-based blood sugar level test helps your doctor determine the best treatment plan and whether your existing diabetes treatment is working. It does not replace your daily blood sugar tests.
For most people, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommends a hemoglobin A1C of 6.5 percent or less. However, you should consult with your doctor to determine the A1C level that’s right your your situation. Once your understand your goal, be sure to get an A1C test 2 to 4 times a year, as recommended by the AACE guidelines.
Also, be sure to discuss specifics with your doctor about your A1C goal and how to attain it. Your doctor can help you understand how diet, exercise, and medication (if prescribed by your doctor) all work together to help you reach your A1C goal.
The standard blood pressure test measures the force of your blood on your blood vessels. When your blood applies too much pressure, you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which puts excessive stress on your heart.
A blood pressure test looks at two measurements:
- Systolic pressure (the pressure as your heart beats); and
- Diastolic pressure (the pressure when your blood vessels relax between heart beats).
You will most often see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic, such as 120/80 mm Hg. (The mm Hg is millimeters of mercury—the units used to measure blood pressure.) AACE recommends a blood pressure of 130/80 mm Hg or lower. You’ll generally be diagnosed with hypertension if your systolic blood pressure reaches between 140 and 159 mm Hg, or if your diastolic blood pressure reaches between 90 and 99 mm Hg.
Hypertension itself may not cause symptoms, but it can cause serous heart and blood vessel damage. It also negatively affects other organs, including your kidneys and eyes. Fortunately, losing weight through diet and exercise can reduce your risk of developing some of these problems.In most cases, hypertension in people with diabetes is caused by excess weight. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have heart disease and strokes.
Be sure to have your blood pressure checked each time you visit your doctor. Ask about your blood pressure goals and what you should be doing to keep it under control.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance. It’s not bad, as you might have previously been led to believe. In fact, your body needs it to build cells. However, too much of certain types of cholesterol can be a problem.
Cholesterol comes from two sources. Your liver naturally produces all the cholesterol you need. You also get it from animal based foods, including meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. These foods are high in saturated and trans fat, and they may cause your liver to make more cholesterol than you need. Some tropical oils, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil, also can increase your cholesterol.
Your doctor will measure two different types of cholesterol: LDL (bad) and HDL (good). LDL increases your risk for heart attack. HDL helps reduce your risk for heart attack. Lowering your LDL cholesterol levels is an important step to help reduce your risk of heart disease. For most people, an LDL of less than 100 mg/dl and an HDL of more than 40 mg/dl for men or more than 50 mg/dl for women, is healthy.
Your doctor will also test your triglycerides. When you eat food, your body may convert it to triglycerides for storage in fat cells. Triglyceride levels less than 150 mg/dL is normal.
Talk with your doctor about your specific cholesterol and triglyceride goals and the dietary changes you need to make to attain your goal.
The A-B-C tests are a barometer of your overall health as a diabetic, they are not the solution. The solution comes from changing your habits, including:
- Eating Healthy Foods and Smaller Portions
- Being Active and Getting Regular Exercise
- Following Your Doctor’s Instructions and Taking Your Medications
- Setting Goals and Monitoring Your Progress
NEXT » Reach Your Goals
The commentary on BloodSugarBasics.com is meant to supplement your knowledge of type 2 diabetes, its cause, and healthy lifestyle changes that can lead to your recovery. All diabetic patients should follow the professional medical advice of their healthcare team, including nutrition, physical activity, testing and medication.