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Part 2 of 4 Steps to Managing Diabetes for Life

via the National Diabetes Education Program

Managing diabetes every day is important for maintaining your health.

Step 2: Know your diabetes ABCs.

Talk to your health care team about how to manage your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. This can help lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes problems. Here’s what the ABCs of diabetes stand for:

A for the A1C test (A-one-C).

What is it?

The A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. It is different from the blood sugar checks you do each day.

Why is it important?

You need to know your blood sugar levels over time. You don’t want those numbers to get too high. High levels of blood sugar can hurt your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.

What is the A1C goal?

The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 7. Ask what your goal should be.

B for Blood pressure.

What is it?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels.

Why is it important?

If your blood pressure gets too high, it makes your heart work too hard. It can cause a heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

What is the blood pressure goal?

Your blood pressure goal should be below 140/80 unless your doctor helps you set a different goal.

4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life

C is for Cholesterol.

What is it?

There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL.

LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or stroke.

HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels.

What are the LDL and HDL goals for people with diabetes?

Ask what your cholesterol numbers should be. If you are over 40 years of age, you may need to take a statin drug for heart health.

Actions you can take

  • Ask your health care team:
    • what your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers are and what they should be. Your ABC goals will depend on how long you have had diabetes, other health problems, and how hard your diabetes is to manage.
    • what you can do to reach your ABC goals

Go to Part 3 of 4 Steps to Managing Your Diabetes for Life.