Although Hispanic/Latino Americans are at significant risk for developing diabetes and suffering from its devastating complications, those living with diabetes can thrive. The path to a longer, healthier life starts with managing some basic health numbers.
Eduardo Sanchez, M.D.
Clinical Lead, Know Diabetes by Heart
“My message for others living with diabetes is that we have control and choices,” said Lupe Barraza, who lives with 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,” Barraza says.
Paying attention to blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight are especially important for anyone living with diabetes, since having diabetes doubles your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, strokes, and heart failure.
“You don’t have to wait until you get sick to go to the doctor. You, your doctor and your family should work together now to keep you from getting sick,” Barraza said.
The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association share five key numbers all people living with diabetes should measure regularly:
1. BMI (body mass index)
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.
2. Blood pressure
Blood pressure is how strongly the 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 with a blood pressure monitor or in a doctor’s office.
A1C 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.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in the blood. If 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.
5. Kidney function
Early detection of chronic kidney disease can make a huge difference. An often overlooked, 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.
Visit www.KnowDiabetesbyHeart.org for more information.