What Are the ABCs?
| Steps to Lower Heart Disease Risk
What Are the ABCs?
People with diabetes have an increased risk of death and an increased risk of heart disease death.
In order to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes, we need better management of three critical factors. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has nicknamed these the ABCs:
Short for hemoglobin A1C, the A1C test is a blood test that measures how your blood sugar levels have been averaging over the past couple months. Depending on the severity of your disease, your A1C level should be checked about 3-4 times a year.
To reduce your risk of diabetes complications, NDEP points out that the goal should be to keep your blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg.
LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should be less than 100. People with diabetes should also try to raise HDL (good) cholesterol (above 40) and lower triglyceride levels.
Steps to Lower Heart Disease Risk
People with diabetes in the United States may not be getting the kind of care they need to prevent heart disease. But NDEP urges people with diabetes to gain control of their A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol. A good place to begin is by asking your doctor three important questions about your ABCs:
- What are my A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers?
- What are my personal treatment goals?
- What do I need to do to reach these goals?
Just because you have diabetes does not mean you have to die prematurely from heart disease or stroke. Managing the diabetic ABCs can make a real difference.
All about cholesterol. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/checkup-america/cholesterol.html. Accessed December 15, 2011.
Diabetes mellitus type 2. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 30, 2009. Accessed December 18, 2009.
For people of African, Mediterranean, or Southeast Asian Heritage: important information about diabetes blood tests. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/traitA1C/index.aspx#test. Updated November 4, 2011. Accessed December 15, 2011.
High blood pressure (hypertension). American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/high-blood-pressure-hypertension.html. Accessed December 15, 2011.
Scientists report new findings on the connection between diabetes and heart disease and stroke. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/News/SearchNews/06_24_2001.htm. Published June 24, 2001. Accessed December 15, 2011.
Step 2: know your diabetes ABCs. (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol).
National Diabetes Education Program website. Available at: http://ndep.nih.gov/i-have-diabetes/KnowYourABCs.aspx. Accessed December 15, 2011.
Last reviewed December 2011 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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