Managing Diabetes

American Diabetes Month is celebrated each November to raise awareness for those living with diabetes and pre-diabetes, something impacting nearly 1 in 10 Americans. Providers from Oklahoma Heart Institute's endocrinology team came together to provide insight on blood sugar levels, diabetes-related kidney disease, contracting COVID-19 as a diabetic and ways you can work to prevent and control diabetes.

Blood sugar levels can depend on several factors.

“Fasting blood sugar levels should be below 130 mg/dl,” said Christian Hanson, D.O. Two hours post meal, blood sugar levels should be less than 140 mg/dl. The target for A1c can vary from one person to another person depending on age and other factors. An A1c test represents the average blood sugar levels over a three-month period. If your A1c is between 5.7% and less than 6.5%, you have pre-diabetes. If you have an A1c level greater than 6.5% your levels are in the diabetes range. The goal for most adults with diabetes is an A1c less than 7%. Your A1c level also represents an estimated average glucose level (eAG). For example, an A1c of 6% is an eAG of 126 mg/dl. An A1c of 9% is an eAG of 212 mg/dl.”

Individuals living with diabetes are often prone to developing diabetes-related kidney disease.

“The best way to slow or prevent diabetes-related kidney disease is to try to reach blood glucose and blood pressure goals,” said Elie Abed, M.D. Healthy lifestyle habits and taking medications as prescribed can help achieve these goals and improve health overall.”

Dr. Abed recommends making these lifestyle changes.

·       Be more active. It’s important to exercise daily and be physically active to manage blood pressure and keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

·       Check blood glucose regularly and keep it within target range.

·       Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes reduces blood flow to your kidneys, causing a decrease in function. Smoking cigarettes also increases blood sugar levels, which worsens kidney function.

·       Use caution with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. Using NSAIDs regularly may result in kidney damage.

In terms of COVID-19, people with diabetes have a higher risk of a more serious case.

“People with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 because type 2 diabetes is often accompanied by uncontrolled high blood sugars, hypertension and obesity all of which compromise the immune system or increase the risk of a severe inflammatory response,” said D. Erik Aspenson, M.D.

There are many ways you can work to prevent and control diabetes.

“First, assess your risk for prediabetes/diabetes by using the risk calculator on the American Diabetes Association website,” said Cristin Bruns, M.D. “If you are at elevated risk, then ask your health care provider for a screening test for diabetes such as an A1c test and/or a fasting blood sugar. You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing diabetes by working toward or maintaining a healthy weight and by learning about healthy eating. Even small changes can have a large impact! If you have diabetes, controlling it can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes complications. There are several effective diabetes medication strategies that can also improve heart and kidney health. Consistency in taking medications and going to regular check-ups should be part of the treatment goals. Participating in a diabetes education program is an essential part of learning how to manage diabetes.


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