Know Your ABCs to Prevent Diabetes

ABCs-of-DiabetesIf you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, it’s critical to monitor several key health numbers.

Here’s a simple way to remember your diabetes numbers. It’s as easy as remembering ABC!

A — your A1C number and your daily blood glucose number

B — your blood pressure

C — your cholesterol

“A” is for A1C
The A1C test tells you what your blood glucose or blood sugar has been over the last three months. The goal for many diabetics is to keep it under 7, according to the National Diabetes Education Program.

The A1C test is very important. It’s crucial to monitor this number because high blood glucose levels can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes.

However, it’s also extremely important to monitor your blood glucose number daily or at least every other day, says Jamie Brandenburg, inpatient diabetes health educator at Tanner Health System.

“Checking your blood glucose every day or every other day gives you a quick snapshot,  so you can see exactly how food affects your blood sugar each day,” Brandenburg explains. “Keep a food log along with your blood sugar log so you can see how certain foods affect you.”

For example, some people experience a spike in blood sugar from eating white rice, while others do not.

Frequent blood sugar checks also provide a more detailed account of your health.

“If you are only getting that A1C, it’s not enough to really figure out what is affecting your blood sugar and how to manage it better,” Brandenburg said. “Why wait three months to find out that you’re not doing so great?”

Write down the date, time and your blood glucose number in a logbook so you can keep track of it and share it with your healthcare care provider. Or, you can also use this free online tool called Diabetes 24/7 to track and analyze your blood glucose numbers. It’s free resource provided by the American Diabetes Association.

“B” is for Blood Pressure
Ask your doctor what your blood pressure goal should be and check your blood pressure regularly. You can check it for free at many grocery stores and pharmacies, or you can buy an inexpensive blood pressure monitor to use at home.

Most diabetics should stay in the 130/80 to 140/80 range, but it’s best to ask your physician what your exact goal should be.

High blood pressure is especially dangerous for diabetics because it causes more plaque to build up and potential blockages to occur in the arteries, explains Brandenburg.

“C” is for Cholesterol
Ask your doctor what your cholesterol number should be and be sure to monitor it. As a general rule, overall cholesterol needs to be less than 200, while LDL cholesterol should be under 100 and HDL should be over 50, Brandenburg said.

abcs2These ABCs are an important part of controlling diabetes and maintaining or improving your health. It’s also essential to watch your weight by hopping on the scale regularly, eating a healthy diet and exercising.

Being overweight, having high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar are all factors that increase the risk of heart disease and other serious health complications, according to the American Heart Association.

Ask your doctor today to check your ABC numbers. Ask what your goals should be for each one (blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol), and discuss what you can do to reach your goals.

Free Resources to Help You Prevent Diabetes
For west Georgia residents at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, Get Healthy, Live Well is offering a free opportunity to turn back the disease.

The community collaborative is offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which  provides lifestyle-changing education that can reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved educational series focuses on healthy habits that can prevent diabetes.

The program teaches about prediabetes and how the steps that participants take through the program can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

“We’re hoping to educate participants about diabetes warning signs and symptoms, how to know if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and what they can do to fight back against the disease,” said Gina Brandenburg, a certified health education specialist with Tanner Health System and program manager with Get Healthy, Live Well.

More than 79 million people nationwide have been diagnosed with diabetes. According to CDC statistics for the national benchmark, Carroll, Haralson and Heard Counties all rank above the national average for adults diagnosed with diabetes.

Check the Calendar for a complete list of upcoming Diabetes Prevention classes. To register, call 770.214.CARE (2273).  The registration line is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Class size is limited, so register early.