Learn Your Diabetic ABCs
If you've ever taken a class to learn
Diabetics at Risk for Heart Disease
People with diabetes have a 2-fold increased risk of death and a 1.5 to 5-fold increased risk of heart disease death.
Heart disease results from diabetes when high blood-sugar levels lead to premature hardening of arteries throughout the body. The widespread buildup of plaque contributes to a life expectancy in diabetics that is shortened by about 8 years.
What Are the ABCs?
In order to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes, we need better management of three critical factors. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has nicknamed these the ABCs:
"A" Is For the A1C Test to Measure Blood Sugar
Short for hemoglobin A1C, the A1C test is a blood test that measures how your blood sugar levels have been averaging over the past couple months. Depending on the severity of your disease, your A1C level should be checked about three to four times a year.
"B" Is For Blood Pressure
In people with diabetes the threshold for starting high blood pressure therapy is 130/80.
"C" Is For Cholesterol
Guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program say that LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should be less than 100, the same level recommended for patients with coronary heart disease. People with diabetes should also try to raise HDL (good) cholesterol (above 40) and lower triglyceride levels.
Steps to Lower Heart Disease Risk
People with diabetes in the United States may not be getting the kind of care they need to prevent heart disease. But NDEP's campaign urges people with diabetes to gain control of their A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol. A good place to begin is by asking your healthcare provider three important questions about your ABCs:
- What are my A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers?
- What are my personal treatment goals?
- What do I need to do to reach these goals?
Just because you have diabetes does not mean you have to die prematurely from heart disease or stroke. Managing the diabetic ABCs can make a real difference.
American Diabetes Association
Diabetes Public Health Resource, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Diabetes Education Program
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Scientists report new findings on the connection between diabetes and heart disease and stroke. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/News/SearchNews/06_24_2001.htm.
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
Canadian Diabetes Association
Diabetes mellitus type 2. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 30, 2009. Accessed December 18, 2009.
Step 2: know your diabetes ABCs. (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol). National Diabetes Education Program website. Available at: http://ndep.nih.gov/i-have-diabetes/KnowYourABCs.aspx. Accessed Decemeber 18, 2009.
Last reviewed December 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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