ABC’s of Diabetes

By Rachel Pessah-Pollack, MD 

Presented by Amertex

Do you know your ABCs? Knowing the ABCs of your diabetes can lower your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.  Your ABCs are an easy way to remember the important issues related to your diabetes and help focus your visit with your physician. 

A is for A1c

Your A1c level shows your average blood sugar (glucose) level. It is a measure of the amount of sugar your red blood cells have been exposed to over the past three months.  Your doctor will use your A1c to help gauge how well controlled your diabetes has been for the past few months and not just at the time your blood test was drawn. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommend a goal A1c of 6.5%, which is equivalent to an average blood sugar of 135. Ask your doctor to help determine what your goal A1c should be. Lowering your A1c can reduce complications from diabetes such as eye disease (retinopathy), foot disease (neuropathy), and early kidney disease (microalbuminuria).

B is for Blood Pressure

Your doctor will be paying close attention to your blood pressure.  Your goal blood pressure is less than 130/80 mmHg. Lowering your blood pressure to less than 130/80 mmHg will decrease your risk of complications from diabetes. If your blood pressure is above 130/80, known as “hypertension”, your doctor may suggest you start a blood pressure medication.  A common class of medications used is called an ACE inhibitor.  ACE inhibitors not only lower your blood pressure, but can also help prevent kidney damage from diabetes.

C is for Cholesterol

Your cholesterol measurement is referred to as a lipid panel.  Your lipid panel is made up of many different components including your total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides. LDL is your “bad” cholesterol.  Too much LDL can cause excess fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries (atherosclerosis) and increase your risk of clots. Your goal LDL should be less than 100 if you have diabetes, however your doctor may suggest an even lower LDL goal if you have coexistent heart disease or a history of a stroke. HDL is your “healthy” cholesterol, which helps keep your arteries open. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.  The body produces triglycerides from carbohydrates and fatty foods and your goal triglyceride level is less than 150.  The good news is your triglyceride level should improve with diet changes (low-carbohydrate, low-fat) and better diabetes control.

Now you know your ABCs of Diabetes. Take an active role in your fight against this disease and speak to your doctor about the concerns you may have.

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