By: Soror Diamond Meness
The National Education Program will be a strong supporter this month for National Diabetes Month of 2014. Many people are unaware, that diabetes has a strong impact on the health of your heart. So this year, their campaign “Be Smart about Your Heart: Control the ABCs of Diabetes” will help those who are living with Diabetes understand the importance of getting your Diabetes under control to avoid problems such as heart disease. This article will take a look at the ABCs of Diabetes by helping you lower your risk. What exactly are the ABCs of Diabetes?
A – A1C Testing
A1C Test is a blood test that helps you measure the ‘average blood sugar levels or blood glucose level over a three month period. Another name for it is the hemoglobin A1c test. Hemoglobin is the protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen. This is the primary test that is used when measuring or managing an individual’s diabetes. In someone who does not have diabetes, that blood test would average below 6. However, for those of us suffering with Diabetes, a test result of over 6 means your blood glucose level is high and you are at risk of having or have diabetes.
B – Blood Pressure
Many people don’t know that your diabetes does affect your blood pressure. Your blood pressure is measured by the force of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels. Hypertension or High Blood Pressure can make your diabetes even more complicated. It can lead to diabetic eye disease or even kidney disease. There is a high risk that people with diabetes will develop high blood pressure during their lifetime. Think of the extra sugar that is carried in the blood of a person with Diabetes. Now think of that extra sugar as tiny little shards of glass. When an individual has diabetes and high blood pressure, there is more likely to be damage to the arteries because those little shards of ‘glass’ is doing an extreme amount of damage to the arteries as it travels. This can lead to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. This is what causes high blood pressure in diabetics. If it’s not treated, these blood vessels will become damage and can lead to a stroke, heart failure, heart attack or even kidney failure. This is why it is extremely important to keep your blood sugar levels under control. When you think of it in this light, you really get a better understanding of how diabetes is damaging the body.
C – Cholesterol
In the body, there are two types of Cholesterol: the LDL and the HDL. HDL or High-Density Lipoprotein is the good cholesterol that our body needs. HDL moves along the blood stream removing the bad cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong. It in turns helps reduce heart disease. LDL or low density lipoprotein is considered bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol collects in the walls of the blood vessels. This causes blockages of the atherosclerosis and can lead to heart attacks if a blood clot should form in an artery that is narrowed by the atherosclerosis.
The unfortunate aspect of being or having diabetes is that it lowers the good cholesterol level and it raises the bad one. This can also increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. This is also called diabetic dyslipidemia which essentially means, your lipid profile is going in “the wrong direction”. It puts an individual at risk for coronary heart disease.
S – Stop Smoking!!
The Center for Disease Control has linked smoking to Type 2 diabetes. Research shows that 30 to 40 % of smokers are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Smoking makes controlling your diabetes harder. Being diabetic alone is hard enough, but smoking increases the chances of have serious complications such as heart and kidney disease, poor blood flow in the legs and feet which can lead to amputations, Retinopathy or blindness in the eyes, and peripheral neuropathy or damaged nerves to the arms and legs. This causes numbness, pain, weakens, and poor coordination. Smoking can ‘speed up’ the complications that an individual already faces when they are a diabetic. For example, on its own, smoking can raise glucose levels even in individuals without diabetes. How? If you are a diabetic and you smoke, it will make it harder to control your diabetes. Why? You may take your medicine and eat properly, but when you smoke, your glucose levels will raise anyway. Also, on its own, smoking can cause blood clots to form. A person who has diabetes who is already at risk of blood clots due to blockages of the atherosclerosis, coupled with the risk of blood clots in smokers, greatly increases one’s chance of a stroke or heart attack. Want help to stop smoking: call 1-800-QUITNOW.
As an individual dealing with Diabetes, this Soror strongly encourage everyone, even if you are not a diabetic, to educate yourselves on the dangers of diabetes. It is the only way that we can began to stop the cycle. Knowing your risk is the first step in preventing or even slowing down your diabetes as well as having an early diagnosis so that you can begin treatment right away. The longer you wait, the more dangers there are involved. The National Diabetes Statistical Report of 2014 states: 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the U.S. Population have diabetes. 21million people are diagnosed yet another 8.1 million are undiagnosed. That means 27.8% of people with diabetes were undiagnosed. Don’t ignore this deadly and silent killer.
Please note: This information is not a substitute to seeing a doctor if you have concerns. This information is strictly to inform you of some basic facts regarding Diabetes. This Soror stresses that you speak with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) if you have concerns or a history of Diabetes in your family. Proper diagnosis is the first step to getting the proper treatment.
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