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The 5 Numbers to Know If You Have Diabetes

Paying attention to blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight are important for everyone, but especially for individuals living with diabetes, who are twice as likely to develop and die from heart disease, strokes, or heart failure.

Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for severe complications from COVID-19, so it is more important than ever for people living with diabetes to be aware of critical numbers and keep their diabetes well-managed.

Diabetes management is especially essential for Hispanic/Latino Americans, who have a 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes and suffering devastating complications from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“My message for others living with diabetes is that we have control and choices,” said Lupe Barraza, who has type 2 diabetes and is a spokesperson for Know Diabetes by Heart, an initiative of the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. “Managing key health numbers can help you prevent complications from diabetes, like heart failure and kidney disease.

“You don’t have to wait until you get sick to go to the doctor. You and your doctor should work together now to keep you from getting sick.”

Key numbers

There are five key numbers all people living with diabetes should measure regularly. The first is body mass index, or BMI. Your BMI is an estimate of body size based on height and weight that is used to help determine if you’re overweight or obese. A normal BMI usually ranges from 18.6 to 24.9, and can be calculated at home using a BMI calculator or in a doctor’s office.

The next is blood pressure, which is a measure of how strongly blood pumps through your body when your heart beats, and is a sign of heart health. A healthy blood pressure for most people is less than 120/80, but your doctor may give you a different goal based on your diabetes. Blood pressure can be measured at home if you have a blood pressure monitor, or in a doctor’s office.

Healthy blood glucose

Another key number is your A1C, which is a measure of your average blood glucose levels for the past two to three months. A healthy A1C for someone with diabetes is 7 percent or less. A1C is measured by a blood test and should be checked at least every six months if you have diabetes.

It’s also important to keep track of your cholesterol, which is a waxy substance in the blood. If your cholesterol levels are too high, they can cause fatty deposits in blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is measured by a fasting blood test in a doctor’s office.

Finally there’s kidney function. Early detection of chronic kidney disease can make a huge difference. An often overlooked and simple test is the UACR (urine albumin to creatinine ratio), which can detect early signs of trouble. Kidney function is measured in a doctor’s office and should be done every year.For more information about monitoring your numbers, visit KnowDiabetesByHeart.

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