Understanding Diabetes

Living with diabetes is a team effort between you and your healthcare team (doctor, diabetes nurse educator, diabetes dietitian educator, pharmacist, and others). You are the most important member of the team. You can prevent or slow down diabetes complications by closely monitoring your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

What are diabetes complications?

Too much glucose (sugar) in the blood for a long time can cause diabetes complications. This high blood glucose can damage many parts of the body, such as the heart, blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys. Heart and blood vessel disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It is important to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control.

How do I check my blood sugar?

You and your healthcare provider will decide when you need to check your blood sugar using a blood glucose meter. You will do the checks yourself. Your healthcare provider can teach you how to use your meter. Keep track of your blood sugar checks by keeping a record book, and always bring your record book to your healthcare appointments so you can talk about reaching your blood sugar goals. Your blood sugar check results will help you and your healthcare provider make a plan for keeping your blood sugar under control.

How can I find out what my average blood sugar is?

Ask your healthcare provider to do an A1C test. This blood test shows the average amount of sugar in your blood during the past two to three months. Have this test done at least twice a year. If your A1C result is not as good as it should be, your healthcare provider will do this test more often to see if your result is improving as your treatment changes. Your A1C result plus your blood glucose meter results can show whether your blood sugar is under control.

Aim for a result below 7%. If your A1C test result is below 7%, then your blood sugar is in a desirable range and your diabetes treatment plan is working. The lower your A1C is, the lower your chance of getting eye, nerve, and kidney damage. If your test result is more than 8%, you need to make a change in your diabetes plan. Your healthcare team can help you decide what part of your plan to change. You may need to change your meal plan, your diabetes medicines, or your exercise plan.

What should my blood sugar numbers be?

Keeping your blood sugar on target will prevent or delay diabetes problems. Talk with your healthcare provider about what your blood sugar numbers should be and write them down. For most people, target blood sugar levels are:

90 to 130 mg/dL (before meals) <——> Less than 200 mg/dL (1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal)

What should my cholesterol be?

Normal cholesterol levels will help prevent heart disease and stroke, the biggest health concerns for people living with diabetes. Keeping cholesterol levels under control can also help with blood flow. Have your cholesterol level checked at least once a year. Meal planning, exercise, and medicines can help you reach your cholesterol targets:

Total cholesterol- Less than 200 mg/dL

LDL cholesterol- Less than 100 mg/dL (less than 70 mg/dL for people with overt cardiovascular disease)

HDL cholesterol– More than 40 mg/dL (men) & More than 50 mg/dL (women)

Triglycerides– Less than 150

What should my blood pressure be?

Normal blood pressure will help prevent damage to your eyes, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. Blood pressure is written with two numbers separated by a slash. For example: 120/70. The first number should be below 130 and the second number should be below 80. Keep your pressure as close to these numbers as you can. If you already have kidney disease, you may want to try to lower your blood pressure even more to protect your kidneys. Meal planning, medicines, and exercise can help you reach your blood pressure target.

This information has been brought to you by Magellan Health.