Heart health is an important goal for everyone with diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of early death in people with diabetes and two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. For adults with diabetes, the rates of stroke and heart disease are 2-4 times higher than in people without diabetes.
Are you ready for some good news? Managing your “ABCs" -- A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol -- can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Follow these guidelines for heart-healthy living to meet your ABC goals.
Your doctor may tailor your goals based on your age, glucose control, and existing heart problems or other diabetes complications.
ABCs: A1c Testing for Diabetes
You check your blood sugar often to make sure your levels don't get too high or low. This is an easy way to see whether you need to adjust your treatment.
A hemoglobin A1c test is a another kind of blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. It's a way to check how well you've been controlling your blood sugar over time.The A1c measures how much glucose has been "sticking" to red blood cells and is generally done every three months.
Why Does The A1c Matter?
Keeping control of your blood sugar over time can help lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. It can also reduce your risk of other diabetes-related complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye disease. Each percentage point you drop in your A1c test – such as dropping from 8% to 7% – drops the risk of kidney, eye, and nerve disease by 40%.
What's Your Goal?
Aim for an A1c of less than 7%.
How Can You Improve Your Score?
If you think of daily glucose monitoring like a pop quiz, the A1c is a mid-term test. Your consistent, daily success with blood sugar control improves your A1c score, which summarizes your past efforts. Taking your diabetes medication and making sure you eat healthy, get exercise, and follow the other heart-healthy guidelines below will help you reach your A1c goal.
ABCs: Blood Pressure and Diabetes
About 70% of people with diabetes either have high blood pressure (hypertension), defined as 140/90 or greater, or use prescription medications to control their blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of complications, putting you at greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
Why Does Blood Pressure Matter?
Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level reduces the risk of heart disease by 33% to 50% -- a significant heart-health benefit. Controlling your blood pressure can also help prevent or delay kidney disease, another common problem with diabetes.