Know the ABC’s of Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, and one in five don’t know they have it. Attending yearly physicals and getting prescribed blood tests can help identify diabetes early. A blood sugar test will indicate the following: 

  • A reading of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal. 
  • A reading of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes. 
  • A reading of 126 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.  

If your levels are above normal, but not high enough to be categorized into type 2 diabetes, that is referred to as prediabetes. It is important to speak with your primary care provider and incorporate lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as most people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. A diagnosis of type 1 diabetes after young adulthood is not common, but adults can develop type 1 diabetes. Learn more about the types of diabetes.  

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to know the ABC’s of diabetes.  

This article, the third in a series relating to diabetes education, breaks down the three types of diabetes, discusses the cause, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and knowing how to manage the condition. Links to prior articles are below. 

The ABC’s of Diabetes 

Diabetes is manageable with medical supervision, personal monitoring, lifestyle changes and always remembering the ABC’s: A1C, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol

A – A1C 

Know Your A1C 

The A1C test, which is also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test, is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over a three-month period. It’s one of the most utilized tests to diagnose diabetes and is used to manage diabetes. Knowing your blood sugar levels over time can assist in preventing damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and feet. Higher A1C levels are linked to diabetes complications, so reaching and maintaining your individual A1C goal is really important if you have diabetes. This test does not replace your daily checks. 

What Should Be Your A1C Goal? 

The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 5.7%, but your A1C level requirement may vary so it’s important to have a discussion with your health care provider to establish the correct goal for your health. 

B – Blood Pressure 

Why is Blood Pressure Important? 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can increase your chances of developing complications from diabetes including: 

  • Diabetic eye disease. 
  • Kidney disease. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases.  

If you currently experience eye or kidney disease, it can worsen the progression of the disease. 

What Should Be Your Blood Pressure Goal? 

The blood pressure goal for people with diabetes should be below 140 mmHg systolic – indicating how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart contracts, and 90 mmHg diastolic – indicating how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart muscle is resting between contractions. This is a general range and it is important to speak with your health care provider on setting a range for your personal health.  

Learn more about blood pressure. 

C – Cholesterol 

How Cholesterol Differs in Those with Diabetes 

As many of you know, there are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL Is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol and can build up and clog your blood vessels resulting in a heart attack or stroke. HDL, or “good” cholesterol helps to remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels. It’s good for everyone to know their cholesterol levels but it’s imperative for patients with diabetes. Diabetes can lower the levels of “good” cholesterol and raise the levels of “bad” cholesterol. This can result in diabetic dyslipidemia and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. High triglycerides level may be a warning sign of prediabetes or even diabetes.  

What Should be Your Cholesterol level Goals? 

Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter. Generally speaking, the total cholesterol lever should be less than 200mg/dl. LDL should be less than 100 mg/dl; HDL should be over 40 mg/dl and triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dl.  

To determine the goal that is right for you, speak with your health care provider and make lifestyle changes. In addition to treatment, these actions can help assist in keeping your cholesterol under control and prevent further complications.  

It is important to discuss the ABC’s of diabetes with your health care provider and set goals that best align with your health and your health goals in living with diabetes.  

Diabetes Health Tip 

If you are a diabetic, it is critical to have your eyes examined on a regular basis by an ophthalmologist. Diabetic retinopathy means “eye problems due to diabetes.” It is a complication that stems from the damage that diabetes inflicts on the blood vessels lining the retina (the organ that is sensitive to light) at the back of the eye. You may not even know you have diabetic retinopathy because often there are no symptoms in the early stages. Even when symptoms begin to set in, they are mild, and many do not even realize there is a problem. That’s why it is important to have regularly scheduled visits with your ophthalmologist, or see them at the first sign of eye problems. 

Diabetes Health Series 

This article, the third in a series relating to diabetes education, breaks down the three types of diabetes, discusses the cause, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and how to manage the condition. Links to prior articles are below.  

What Is Diabetes 

Causes and Risk Factors for Diabetes 

As part of living a healthier life, RPM Healthcare offers remote patient monitoring and care coaching services for those with diabetes and other health conditions. This series on diabetes, the RPM365 platform, and care coaches are aimed at working with you to achieve a healthy lifestyle and assist in helping you manage your diabetes, and other health conditions that can affect your everyday life. Visit RPM365.com for more information and to sign up for our free monthly webinars.    

All health content is reviewed by Irina Koyfman, DNP, NP-C, RN, Chief Population Health Officer, RPM Healthcare. 

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