Managing diabetes involves monitoring several vital metrics to prevent complications and maintain overall health. They play a crucial role in diabetes control, and regular tracking can be useful to individuals with diabetes to lead a more fulfilling life. Keeping diabetes metrics in check also entails making necessary adjustments to the treatment plan, ensuring the avoidance of long-term complications. This article will examine the five key diabetes metrics that every person with diabetes should monitor carefully. We will provide an overview of each metric, explain its importance, and discuss recommended monitoring strategies to help individuals stay on top of their condition.
Blood Sugar Levels
- Definition: The amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
- Desired range: Between 70-130 mg/dL (3.9-7.2 mmol/L) before meals and less than 180 mg/dL (10.0 mmol/L) two hours after starting a meal.
- Low and high levels: Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs it falls below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), while high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) happens when blood sugar is consistently above 180 mg/dL (10.0 mmol/L).
- Potential complications if not monitored: High blood sugar can lead to nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, and cardiovascular disease.
- How often to monitor this metric: At least daily for people with type 1 diabetes, while the frequency may vary for people with type 2 diabetes depending on their treatment plan.
- What actions to undertake when this metric is not in range: Consume fast-acting carbohydrates to treat low blood sugar, while high blood sugar may require adjustments in medication, diet, and physical activity.
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c)
- Definition: A blood test that measures average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months.
- Desired range: Less than 7% for most people with diabetes.
- Low and high levels: A low HbA1c indicates better blood sugar control, while a high HbA1c means poor blood sugar control.
- Potential complications if not monitored: Poor control leads to nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, and cardiovascular disease.
- How often to monitor this metric: At least twice a year for people with well-controlled diabetes, while people with poorly controlled diabetes may need more frequent testing.
- What actions to undertake when this metric is not in range: Adjustments in medication, diet, and physical activity may be necessary to improve blood sugar control.
- Definition: A fatty substance in the blood.
- Desired range: Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L), with LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL (5.5 mmol/L) and HDL (good) cholesterol above 40 mg/dL (2.2 mmol/L) for men and 50 mg/dL (2.8 mmol/L) for women.
- Low and high levels: High levels of total and LDL cholesterol, as well as low levels of HDL cholesterol, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Potential complications if not monitored: High cholesterol can pose significant health risks, such as further exacerbating the risk of developing cardiovascular disease leading to a range of health complications, including heart disease, peripheral artery disease, kidney disease, vision loss, and nerve damage.
- How often to monitor this metric: At least every five years for adults over the age of 20.
- What actions to undertake when this metric is not in range: Diet and lifestyle changes, exercise, and medications may be necessary to lower cholesterol levels.
- Definition: The force of blood against the walls of the arteries.
- Desired range: Less than 130/80 mmHg for most people with diabetes.
- Low and high levels: Low blood pressure is generally not a concern, while high blood pressure (hypertension) may cause health complications.
- Potential complications if not monitored: High blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and other complications.
- How often to monitor this metric: At least every visit to the healthcare provider.
- What actions to undertake when this metric is not in range: Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet, as well as medication, may be necessary to lower blood pressure.
- Definition: The ability of the kidneys to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood.
- Desired range: A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) above 60 mL/min/1.73m2 is considered normal, while an albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) below 30 mg/g is desired.
- Low and high levels: A low GFR and high ACR indicate decreased kidney function and increased risk of kidney damage.
- Potential complications if not monitored: Decreased kidney function can lead to kidney damage and, eventually, kidney failure.
- How often to monitor this metric: At least once a year, and more frequently for people with existing kidney damage or other risk factors.
- What actions to undertake when this metric is not in range: Medications and lifestyle changes, such as managing blood sugar and blood pressure, may be necessary to protect kidney function and prevent further damage.
In summary, monitoring these five metrics is an essential part of managing diabetes effectively. By understanding the desired ranges for each one and the potential risk and complications, people with diabetes can take an active role in their own health and well-being. By monitoring these metrics regularly and making lifestyle changes as needed, people with diabetes can live healthy and happy life.
Additionally, using a diabetes management app like Diabetes:M can make it easier to track progress and identify patterns over time. The many advanced functions make it an all-in-one app for people with all types of diabetes. Find out more here.