The ABCs of diabetes care

Kathleen Stanley
Kathleen Stanley Baptist Health

January is coming. What is your health resolution?

More and more Americans are getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes despite all the advances in health care. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, a disease where your body does not use the main source of fuel (glucose) correctly.

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of diabetes. This is partly due to the fact that Kentucky also ranks high in some of the risk factors for diabetes, such as being overweight and/or inactive. Other risk factors include age, race, and family history of diabetes.

Once diagnosed, treatment will include interventions such as a healthy meal plan, regular physical activity, frequent medical checkups with various health-care professionals, and usually medications. Diabetes is a disease that requires daily maintenance to avoid future problems.

If you already have diabetes, it is important for you to know your ABCs.

A stands for A1c, determined by a blood test. It provides an estimate of your average blood glucose level over about three months. The better your blood glucose control is, the less incidence of the onset and severity of diabetes complications, such as circulatory problems, eye disease, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1c level of less than 7 percent, but this may need to be adjusted for you. Ask your doctor.

The B stands for blood pressure. People with diabetes have higher incidence of high blood pressure (hypertension). Uncontrolled high blood pressure combined with diabetes significantly increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or kidney problems.

The C stands for cholesterol levels, also determined by a blood test. Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood vessels. Too much cholesterol can build up in your blood vessels. That can lead to blockages or reduced blood flow to body parts, which could cause heart attacks and stroke. A healthy diet and activity program can improve your cholesterol levels.

As you look toward 2016, now is the time to make some resolutions for your health. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about your ABCs. There are other important health measures you can take such as regular foot exams, monitoring your weight, annual eye exams and more.

To help you keep track of these important preventive measures, call Baptist Health Lexington’s Diabetes Education at 859-260-5122 for a “My Personal Diabetes Health Card,” a free diabetes identification wallet card with a checklist for monitoring your diabetes.

Kathleen Stanley is a licensed registered dietitian and coordinator of Baptist Diabetes, Health and Nutrition Services at Baptist Health Lexington.