Home Diabetes Basics Control The ABC's of Diabetes

The ABC's of Diabetes

A1C_chartA for A1C

If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. You can lower your risk by taking care of the ABCs of diabetes. The A1C (A-one-C) check provides a "big picture" of your overall blood sugar levels over the last two to three months. Ask your diabetes care provider to perform this blood check.

A high A1C means that sugar is accumulating in your blood. The suggested target for A1C is below 7. Have your A1C checked at least twice a year. Know Your A1C? Find out what your blood sugar has been uo to lately. Find your A1C result on the left. Then follow the arrow across to learn your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months.

B for Blood Pressure

High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should. You'll hear your blood pressure reading as two numbers such as "one-thirty over eighty". The first number is the pressure as your heart beats and pushes blood into the blood vessels. The second number is the pressure when your second heart rests between beats. For most people with diabetes, the suggested target for blood pressure is below 130/80. Have your blood pressure checked every time you see your health care provider.

C for Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, builds up and clogs your blood vessels causing them to become narrowed or blocked. This can lead to chest pain, a heart attack or a stroke. For people with diabetes, the suggested LDL cholesterol target is below 100.

HDL cholesterol, or healthy cholesterol, helps remove cholesterol deposits from your blood vessels. HDL cholesterol keeps blood vessels from getting blocked. Men should aim for an HDL cholesterol above 40 and women should target their HDL above 50.

Triglycerides are another kind of blood fat that can increase your risk for heart disease. For people with diabetes, the target for triglycerides is below 150.

Have your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked at least once a year.

Through healthy eating and exercise, you can help to manage the ABCs of diabetes. If you smoke, get help to quit smoking.

If you have diabetes, talk to your health care provider about your increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Check out the link for a list of questions to ask at your next visit.