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My Health Counts! Living Well with Diabetes

Guidelines for Diabetes Care

Your health care team is an important part of your diabetes management. The people on your team can help you set and achieve goals, manage any problems that you have and keep you on track to a healthier you. But they can’t do it alone. For the best results you need to take an active role—ask questions, conduct your own research and follow the advice and recommendations that your health care team give you.

There’s a lot you and your team can do to reduce your risks for complications. The most common complications can involve your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Learn about tests and exams that will help you stay healthy. Be sure to ask for your results.

Your Health Care Team Should:


  • Check your weight and blood pressure. Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80.
  • Examine your feet. Foot problems can occur because of decreased circulation and lack of feeling in the foot from high glucose levels. (TIP: Take your shoes and socks off when you get into the exam room.)
  • Review your self-management goals and action plan.


  • Give you an A1C test, which shows your blood sugar levels for the last three months.
  • Your A1C level should be less than 7%


  • Check your blood fat levels (cholesterol):
  • Check your triglycerides (type of fat in the blood). It should be less than 150. Check your total cholesterol, which should be less than 200.
  • Check your kidneys by measuring albumin, a protein in the urine, which should be less than 30 mg/24 hours.
  • Arrange for you to get a dilated eye exam with an optometrist/ophthalmologist.
  • Check your feet with a special tool to make sure they have feeling.
  • Give you a flu shot.


  • Give you a pneumonia shot.

Also ask your doctor about a daily aspirin therapy to prevent heart disease.

Tips on Working with Your Team

Ask questions, conduct your own research, bring someone with you, write down questions and follow the advice and recommendations that your health care team give you. Ask for specifics—your doctor may say “Your levels look good”—ask what the numbers are and write them down.

Know Your ABCs:

By learning the ABCs of diabetes, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and blindness. Ask your doctor how to manage your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol to help lower your changes of heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes problems.

A — A1C or “hemoglobin A1c”

What is it?

This blood test measures your average blood glucose over the past 2-3 months.


It can help you monitor how well your treatment plan is working. It is the best way to measure your over-all glucose control.

How Often?

2-4 times a year

Target or goal:

The A1C goal for most people is below 7%. Your goal may be different. Ask!

Action Steps:

  • Check your daily blood glucose levels; use the results and discuss them with your doctor.
  • Ask if your medicines need changing.
  • Review your meal plan and activity plan.
  • Work with your doctor to develop an action plan to help you get closer to your goal.

B— Blood Pressure

What is it?

A measure of the pressure against the walls of your blood vessels.


High blood pressure makes your heart work harder and can cause heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. High blood pressure is more common in diabetes.

How often?

At every check-up. Consider getting a blood pressure monitor so you keep track of daily readings at home.

Target or goal:

The goal for most people is 130/80.

Action steps:

  • Be more active.
  • If you are overweight, losing even a few pounds can help.
  • Use less salt and eat a diet low sodium diet.
  • Ask about medicines that can help lower your blood pressure. Thiazide diuretics or ACE inhibitors are types of medications that your doctor might prescribe to help control your blood pressure.

C— Cholesterol

What is it?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance in the blood used by the body to build cell walls. Too much of it can block arteries.


Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes. The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes If you catch problems early they can be treated.

How often?

You should have a lab test to check your cholesterol and blood lipids at least once a year. Your doctor may want to test more often if levels are high.

Target goal:

LDL (bad) cholesterol should be less than 100—less than 70 for people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

HDL (good) cholesterol should be more than 40 for men and more than 50 for women.

Your triglycerides (type of fat in the blood) should be less than 150.

Action Steps:

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Be more active, eat less saturated fat and lose weight.
  • Ask about medications that help lower your cholesterol.

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