Learn about the 10 things all diabetics should do for a healthy life.
I see a lot of diabetics in my clinic, and unfortunately, I end up diagnosing many new patients every year with this chronic progressive illness. The number of people with diabetes has doubled in the last 15 years, and is expected to reach 48 million by the year 2050. And would you believe these numbers are still underestimated? It is believed that approximately 5.7 million people in the United States are walking around with diabetes without even knowing they have it.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Most diabetics don’t experience any symptoms at all—and that’s why the number of people with diabetes is thought to be underestimated. But for those who do have symptoms, most complain of increased thirst and a frequent need to urinate.
The lack of symptoms doesn’t mean the disease isn’t serious—it’s actually quite the opposite. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease, leg amputations, and nerve damage in the United States. And 65% of diabetics die from a heart attack or stroke, making what is called “cardiovascular disease” the leading cause of death in the United States in both women and men.
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If left untreated, its complications and consequences are quite detrimental to both the quality and quantity of life. But if treated and controlled, patients with diabetes can lead a long and healthy life. That’s why I’m devoting this article to the top 10 things every diabetic should do.
10 Things Every Diabetic Should Do
Every time I diagnose a new patient with diabetes, I verbally go through a list of tips I want them to know about. Now I’m passing the 10 tips on to you.
1. Know your blood sugar: There’s a blood test referred to as the Hemoglobin A1c that tells how your blood sugars have been, on average, for the previous three months. Most guidelines prefer that this number is below at least a 7.0. It’s really important that your fasting blood sugars are kept below 130, and are as close to 100 as possible, and that your blood sugars two hours after a meal are kept below 180.
2. Pay attention to cholesterol: Diabetics have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s why doctors treat cholesterol levels more aggressively in those with diabetes. In order to save more lives and decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, doctors recommend diabetics maintain an LDL level of less than 100 (whereas those without diabetes have a goal of less than 130). For diabetics age 40 and above, a cholesterol-lowering medication is recommended whether or not you have an elevated LDL. We know that this medication saves the lives of many diabetics.
3. Pay attention to blood pressure: Because diabetics have higher rates of heart attacks and strokes, doctors more aggressively treat high blood pressure in people with diabetes. The blood pressure goal of the diabetic person is below 140/90, just like the general non-diabetic population. Again, this is because we know that maintaining pressures below this saves lives.
4. Take baby aspirin: most diabetics above age 40 should take one 81mg baby aspirin (not any more) a day for cardio protective effects (unless you have a contraindication to taking baby aspirin, such as a history of a bleeding stomach ulcer). Ask your doctor if a baby aspirin a day is right for you.