By: Laurie Edwards for Diabetes1
Diabetes is a progressive disease, so even if you already have the healthy eating, the regular exercise and the frequent blood sugar testing down, complications can still arise. The more control you have over your diabetes, the more control you have over your overall health – which is why it is so important to know what other tests and numbers are critical to your wellness.
Managing diabetes demands a lot of time and energy and while you need to be vigilant, you also don’t want to spend all of your time chasing down tests and specialists. So which ones are necessary? Here’s what you need to know.
A1C. Obviously daily testing is important, but your A1C provides different information. It reflects your average blood sugars over a two to three month period, giving a more comprehensive look at your disease management. According to the American Diabetes Association, A1Cs should be done every three to six months, and an A1C of less than seven is ideal.
Blood Pressure. You want to make sure you aren’t experiencing blood vessel damage so you should have your blood pressure checked every time you see your physician – twice yearly, at the bare minimum. Your blood pressure should fall below 130/80 unless you already have kidney complications, which means your blood pressure should be at or below 125/75. Should you have high blood pressure, knowing your numbers early means getting the appropriate treatment before complications become worse.
Urinary Microalbumin. This test provides the earliest evidence of any kidney damage due to diabetes. The normal amount of albumin in urine is less than 30 mg, so that’s your target. Maintaining tight control over your blood pressure and A1C is the most effective way to manage potential kidney complications.
Lipids. You know that diabetes is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, and so is elevated cholesterol/lipids. You should have your cholesterol checked at least once a year. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps protect the heart and it is recommended that men strive for an HDL level of over 40, while women should be above 50. LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease, should measure under 100. For those at highest risk, an LDL of 70 or under is more appropriate.
Eye Exam. Diabetes can increase the risk of developing retinopathy, glaucoma, or cataracts, so early detection through an annual dilated eye exam is crucial to maintain good vision.
Foot Exam. Schedule an annual foot exam to detect any changes in circulation, sensation or infection.
It may sound like a lot, but making sure you monitor these tests over the course of each year is a small price to pay given the serious complications they allow you to detect and treat.
If you’re having trouble with your A1C, blood pressure or lipids, talk to your doctor about appropriate changes to your medication and nutrition/lifestyle needs.
Don’t forget to exercise. Regular physical activity is a great way to keep you at your target numbers, or get you much closer to reaching them.
Take it one day at a time. If all this upkeep seems overwhelming, focus on what you can do in one day to manage your disease, from testing blood sugar frequently to preparing a healthy meal.