Diabetes- know your numbers
If you are living with diabetes, understanding your numbers can help you feel better and have more control over the disease. The aims of treatment are to reduce your risk of developing complications from diabetes, particularly damage to blood vessels and heart disease. The treatment targets are different for each person so ask your diabetes team about the targets that are right for you.
Average blood sugar is measured by the amount of glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in your blood. An HbA1c test gives you a picture of your average blood sugar control over the past 2 to 3 months and provides you with a better idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working. Over the long term, having a high HBA1c can damage the small blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing complications. An HbA1c below 7% (53mmol/mol) is generally considered to be within target.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood as it is pumped through the arteries. Systolic pressure (top number) is the peak pressure in the arteries, and diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the lowest pressure. Having consistently high blood pressure could increase the risk of developing heart and kidney disease. Blood pressure target is usually below 140/80 but is usually set lower if you have evidence of kidney disease.
Having a higher cholesterol level could increase your risk of developing heart disease. Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol, is known as “bad” cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol, is known as “good” cholesterol. Your target number depends on your risk of heart disease and age. In the absence of heart disease, an LDL cholesterol of under 2.6mmol/l and HDL cholesterol over 1 mmol/l are considered within target.
Your ideal body weight depends on your gender, age, height and frame. Your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference provide good indicators of whether you are at a healthy weight.
Every person’s health circumstances are different so speak to your healthcare team so you can together agree on treatment targets that are suitable for you.
In addition, at your annual diabetes care review, you will also have tests to check the health of:
- Your eyes and exclude diabetes eye complications (diabetic retinopathy)
- Your feet and check your circulation and nerve supply
- Your kidneys and exclude diabetic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy)
By getting checked each year, you’ll put yourself in the best position to beat the threat of complications.
Dr Mohgah Elsheikh