Diabetes Diary: Do You Know Your ABCs?

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Do you know your ABCs? The ABCs of diabetes care are the lab values you want to control so that you can live well and long with diabetes: A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Diabetes Diary: Do You Know Your ABCs?

Do you know your ABCs? I bet you do! But do you know your ABCs of diabetes care? Maybe not. The ABCs are the three things you want to focus on controlling so that you can live well and long with diabetes:

Blood pressure
Cholesterol levels in your blood

A = A1C

The A1C blood test measures an average level of blood glucose for the past 2-3 months and can be taken at any time of day. Since glucose likes to glom onto hemoglobin protein in blood, the A1C test gives us useful information about overall blood glucose control. Controlling blood glucose helps protect your eyes, kidneys, and nerves from damage.

The standard goal is an A1C < 7%, which is an average blood glucose of < 154 mg/dL. For more information about the A1C test and blood glucose levels, please see the American Diabetes Association's "Living with Diabetes: A1C & eAG."

B = Blood Pressure

Keeping blood pressure under control protects your kidneys. If your doctor has recommended a blood pressure medication, take it! Sometimes I meet patients who quit taking their blood pressure medication without telling their doctor because they don't like the side effects. Please do not do that. Instead, talk with your doctor about what you are experiencing - there might be a different medication or dose that will have fewer side effects. The current goal is a blood pressure of less than 140/80 (this is an update to the previous goal of 130/80).

C = Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol levels in your blood affect your risk for cardiovascular disease (i.e. your risk for heart attack and stroke). People with diabetes have a triple or quadruple (3-4x) risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those without diabetes. What you eat, how much you exercise, and how much extra weight you carry all affect your blood cholesterol levels. To keep your risk of heart attack and stroke low, keep your blood cholesterol levels in check. For more information about cholesterol levels, see American Diabetes Association's "Diabetes Basics: All About Cholesterol." Here are their current guidelines for blood cholesterol levels:

LDL-C < 100 mg/dL
HDL > 40 for men, > 50 for women
Triglycerides < 150 mg/dL

Need More Help?

The "Seven Self-Care Behaviors" are seven goals you can work on to help you control your ABCs. Check out this website for more information. Also, be sure to read my article "Diabetes Basics" at MyNetDiary for more information about carb goals. And consider trying Diabetes Tracker app if you have an iPhone.

Reach out to your healthcare provider if you are struggling to meet your ABCs of diabetes care. If you do not have regular care from a doctor or diabetes educator, call your local department of public health for help. There could be low cost or free programs offered to the public.

Diabetes->Blood glucose Diabetes->Health
Oct 1, 2013
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

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