Knowing Your ABC’s

I just got back from my favorite Endocrinologist. It was my first visit since my thyroidectomy in January. I got 2 pieces of great news, my thyroid levels are in the right range and my A1c is 6.0%. While waiting for my good news, I was flipping through an updated CalorieKing Counter and was reminded about the ABC’s of diabetes:

A is for A1c

Your A1c , also known as,  HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin measures the percentage of the oxygen carrying hemoglobin in your blood that has become glycated or has “sugar” combined with it. This happens over time and rather accurately reflects your average blood sugar over the past 6 to 12 weeks. People without diabetes normally have an A1c between 4% and 5.6%. People with diabetes should get theirs down to less than 7%, because the higher your A1c, the higher your risk of developing all the really nasty complications of diabetes.

You should get yours tested at least twice a year. If you have anemia or some other medical conditions, your A1c values may be harder to interpret.

B is for Blood Pressure

High blood pressure hurts many systems in your body, like your kidneys. It also puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Yours should be below 130/80. The top number in that ratio, the systolic pressure, reflects the pressure when your heart contracts. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, reflects the pressure when your heart is “at rest” between beats.

You should get yours checked at least once a year, if you’re fortunate enough to have it in the normal range. If yours runs high, like most  of us with diabetes, you should ask your doctor. I have a battery powered meter that cost me about $50, so I can check mine once or twice a week. Remember, unless your blood pressure is very high, you’ll feel fine, but certainly won’t be fine.

C is for Cholesterol

Cholesterol has a bad reputation in most people’s minds, but it’s really a two sided coin. On the bad side, LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein builds up, clogging your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke, just like high blood pressure. On the good side, HDL or High-Density Lipoprotein, helps remove the build up and reverse the bad stuff. Your LDL should be below 100 or 130 (depending on who you talk to) and your HDL above 40.

You should gets yours checked at least once a year, and just like blood pressure, you can feel just fine with high LDL and not be fine. You can work on controlling yours with diet, exercise and a variety of medications, so check it out with your doctor.

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