Living with Diabetes

Understanding Your Tests

There is a lot you can do with the help of your healthcare team in order to control Diabetes and consequently reduce the risk of complications. Complications may affect your heart, blood vessels, feet, eyes, nerves or kidneys. Keeping your blood sugar, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure in the target range is essential. Gain knowledge and understand the different tests for staying healthy. Check the results with your healthcare team, and consider an action plan to keep your readings as close to your target goals as possible. The following tests should be performed regularly by your healthcare team:

HbA1c

What is it?

  • It’s a simple blood test to measure your average blood sugar levels over the last 2 to 3 months
  • HbA1c measures the amount of sugar which is being carried by the red blood cells

Why?

The HbA1c test is the best way to know your overall blood sugar control and gives you and your healthcare team an idea of how efficient your Diabetes care plan is 

How often?

2 to 4 times per year

Target goal

Target for many people is less than 7%; your goal may be different

Blood Pressure:

What is it?

Blood pressure is the amount of force your blood exerts against the walls of your blood vessels

Why?

  • High blood pressure is common in people with Diabetes. If neglected, it can cause damage without being noticed. There are no warning symptoms for elevated blood pressure  
  • High blood pressure increases the chances of having heart attacks, strokes, or problems with eyes or kidneys

How often?

At each visit to the Diabetes clinic

Target goal

Target for most people with Diabetes is less than 130/80 mmHg; your goal may be different

Cholesterol:

What is it?

It is a blood test that tells you how much fat is in your blood.
Types of cholesterol or blood fats:

  • HDL:  this is “good” cholesterol which usually protects against heart disease
  • LDL: this is “bad” cholesterol which may build up and block your blood vessels
  • Triglycerides:  another type of blood fat. As their levels increase, the possibility of experiencing a heart attack or stroke also increases

Why?

  • Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • LDL cholesterol can be deposited in your blood vessels and eventually, clog them

How often?

At least once a year

Target goal

Target for most people:

  • LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dl (2.6 mmol/l)
  • HDL cholesterol: more than 40 mg/dl (1.03 mmol/l) for men, and 50 mg/dl (1.30 mmol/l) for women
  • Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dl (1.7 mmol/l)

Microalbumin:

What is it?

  • It is a urine test for protein. This test measures how well your kidneys are working
  • Protein in urine is an early sign of kidney problems

Why?

  • Diabetes can cause kidney damage
  • The earlier the kidney problem is diagnosed, the more successful the treatment will be
     

How often?

At least once a year

Target goal

Less than 30 mcg/mg

Eye Exam:

What is it?

  • During an eye exam, your vision will be checked and a photograph of your eyes will be taken
  • The doctor may use eye drops to dilate the pupil of your eye so that a good photograph can be taken

Why?

  • Diabetes can cause damage to your eyes
  • Early detection can help protect your eye sight

How often?

At least once a year

Foot Exam:

 

What is it?

  • During this test, your legs and feet will be examined to assess the adequacy of blood circulation and to check if the nerves to your feet are functioning normally
  • Your feet will be inspected for any problems e.g. corns, calluses, and nail problems

Why?

  • Diabetes can damage the nerves and the blood vessels of your lower limbs
  • Regular checkups can avert such damage

How often?

At least once a year

Oral Health Checkup:

Why?

  • Diabetes can affect your oral health
  • Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to infection and inflammation that affect the gums and the bone around your teeth, especially with poorly controlled Diabetes
  • Gum disease and inflammation can increase your insulin requirements and blood sugar levels
  • Diabetes can also cause dry mouth and tooth loss
  • Taking care of your oral health as well as your Diabetes can help prevent problems with your mouth, gums and teeth

How often?

  • You should seek professional dental care at least twice a year
  • You should get immediate help if you have swollen or red gums and in case of bleeding when brushing your teeth

Remember to consider the following: