Learn Your Diabetic ABCs
En Español (Spanish Version)

What Are the ABCs?
People with diabetes have an increased risk of death from several causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In order to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes, you need better management of three critical factors. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has nicknamed these the ABCs:

"A" Is For the A1C Test to Measure Blood Sugar
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. Generally, your goal A1C should be under 7%, but goals can be tailored individually.

"B" Is For Blood Pressure
To reduce your risk of diabetes complications, NDEP points out that the goal should be to keep your blood pressure below 140/80 mmHg, unless your doctor sets a different goal for you.

"C" Is For Cholesterol
LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should be less than 100. People with diabetes should also try to raise HDL (good) cholesterol to 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?
  • Having diabetes doesn't mean you will develop other complications. You may be able to prevent them and add years to your life by managing your ABCs and following the treatment plan you worked on with your doctor.

    American Diabetes Association

    National Diabetes Education Program

    Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition

    Canadian Diabetes Association

    All about cholesterol. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/checkup-america/cholesterol.html. Accessed November 11, 2013.

    Diabetes mellitus type 2. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated October 14, 2013. Accessed November 11, 2013.

    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. Updated November 4, 2011. Accessed November 11, 2013.

    High blood pressure (hypertension). American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/high-blood-pressure-hypertension.html. Accessed November 11, 2013.

    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 November 11, 2013.

    Last Reviewed November 2013

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