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Important numbers for diabetes: 3 things to prevent complications

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
3 important numbers for diabetics.

If you are dealing with diabetes, there are 3 important numbers that studies show can help prevent complications. Dealing with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can seem complicated, but if you understand 3 important numbers that can prevent complications, it makes things much easier.

You already know it’s important to stay active, watch your weight and food portions and focus on specific food groups. But, there’s an underlying reasons related to diabetic complications for combining diet and lifestyle choices to manage diabetes.

It all boils down to blood pressure management, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and keeping your hemoglobin A1C number less than 7.0. Your own doctor may want the number to be even lower.

Blood pressure guidelines for diabetes
Diabetes can take a toll on the kidneys, so protecting them from damage typically meant making sure your blood pressure is less than 130 systolic, which is the top number.

Hypertension can cause kidney damage and raise heart disease risk, especially in the presence of diabetes. Eye disease is also an increased risk when blood pressure is too high.

But in December, 2012, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) relaxed the guidelines a bit, based on evidence that showing systolic blood pressure that is too low could cause more harm than good.

Now, 140 for the top or systolic number is acceptable. Your doctor may tell you differently, based on your individual health status, making it important to comply with any medications, continue to follow a low salt diet and get plenty of exercise, even if it’s just stretching to keep your blood vessels healthy and flexible.

If you have a blood pressure monitor at home, keep track of your readings and share at your doctor’s visit. A benefit of the lower guidelines, according to the researchers, is lower medical bills from fewer medications.

Blood sugar levels
A hemoglobin A1C level that is performed every three months if you’re sugars are poorly controlled tells your doctor how well you’ve been doing over a 3-month period.

Studies show if you keep your sugar controlled over a long period of time, you can lower your risk of diabetes complications.

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If your sugar runs high occasionally, don’t fret. It’s more important to understand the overall picture. If your doctor isn’t discussing your hemoglobin A1C level, ask for details so you can keep track of your progress.

Know your cholesterol numbers
It’s not enough to just know your total cholesterol if you’re dealing with diabetes. You want to talk to your doctor about the dangerous type known as LDL cholesterol. It’s also important to know your triglyceride and ‘god’ or HDL number

Too much LDL cholesterol that is a waxy substance can deposit in the walls of the arteries, causing blockage to blood flow. High levels can lead to plaque and interrupted blood flow anywhere in the body; not just the heart.

People with diabetes already have a disadvantage because risk for heart problems is the same as someone who has already been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

What that mean is it’s important to strive to keep your LDL cholesterol numbers lower than non-diabetics – generally at or below 70 mg/dL.

Triglycerides – the main form of fat in the bloodstream - should be less than 100 mg/dL. Higher levels can also cause hardening of the arteries and plaque buildup.

If your HDL level is less than 40 you might have a higher risk of heart complications from diabetes. Conversely, a level of 60 or above is considered protective.

Lowering diabetes complications is easier when you have specific targets. Diet, exercise, medication compliance and keeping your weight normal are mainstays of managing the disease. Knowing these 3 important numbers reflect how well you’re doing with your overall health status. Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C levels normal can lower your risks for diabetes complications.

MedLine Plus
“New Diabetes Guidelines May Lower Patient Medical Bills”
December, 2012

American Heart Association
“Cholesterol Abnormalities and Diabetes”

Image credit: Morguefile



Please read your page again, and fix what is improperly typed. ". Your own doctor may want to the number even lower." What is wrong with this sentence?
We do want to get the message out about diabetes complications - writing that message correctly is important too, so thank you.