The best way to prevent complications associated with diabetes is to keep the ABC’s of diabetes care in healthy ranges: A1c, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels all play a role in keeping you healthy.
A: A1c A1c stands for hemogloboin A1c, it is a 3month average of your blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends aiming for an A1c of less than 7% which has been associated with a reduced risk of microvascular complications like neuropathy (nerve damage), nephropathy (kidney damage), and retinopathy (eye damage). If you are newly diagnosed with diabetes you should strive for well managed blood glucose levels and an A1c of 7% or less. Studies indicate that good management of diabetes early on can have lasting benefits to help with reduced risk of both microvascular complications (nephropathy, neuropathy and retinopathy) as well as macrovascular complications (like heart disease). Aiming for good blood glucose management is always important regardless of how long you’ve had diabetes.
Is a lower A1c always better? No, a target A1c of 7% is not for everyone. If you have had diabetes for a long time, and have a history of severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and/or atherosclerosis your healthcare provider may suggest an A1c goal of 8% or less. Talk to your healthcare provider about your goal for A1c.
B: Blood Pressure High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and microvascular complications. The American Diabetes Association suggests that people with blood pressure levels above 120/30 start to make lifestyle changes to help. Reducing sodium/salt intake; eating a well-balanced diet and incorporating daily physical activity that you enjoy are all ways to help improve blood pressure levels. Medication may also be recommended as a part of your healthcare routine to help manage high blood pressure. American Diabetes Association Blood
*If you have diabetes & hypertension your goal is a blood pressure of 140/90
*If you are a younger individual with diabetes your blood pressure goal may be lower 130/80.
*Speak to your healthcare provider about your blood pressure goal.
C: Cholesterol Individuals with diabetes are at risk for higher cholesterol levels and heart disease. Lifestyle factors like managing your weight, limiting the saturated and trans fats you are eating and staying physically active can help manage cholesterol levels. Your healthcare provider may also suggest medications to help manage your cholesterol levels depending on your individual needs.