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Lower your risk of diabetes-related health problems

blood sugar, blood sugar monitor, blood glucose, blood glucose monitor

Did you know? Health problems related to diabetes are more common when your blood glucose levels are not managed well and are high over a long period of time. Learning how to manage your blood glucose can greatly decrease the risk of health problems.

What are some health problems related to diabetes?

If you do not manage your blood glucose well, you have a higher risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Poor blood flow to the legs (peripheral vascular disease) 
  • Kidney disease
  • Vision problems
  • Nerve damage to fingers and feet (neuropathy)

Keeping your blood glucose levels under control can lower the risk of these health problems.

How do I know if my blood glucose is under control?

Your doctor will do a blood test to determine your A1C. A1C is a test that shows how well your blood glucose levels are being managed over a long-term period. If your A1C is above 7%, you may have a higher risk of health problems related to diabetes.
 
In order to achieve an AIC 7% or less, you should test your blood at home and aim for these blood glucose levels:

  • 4 – 7 mmol/L before a meal
  • 5 - 10 mmol/L two hours after eating if your A1C targets are being met
  • 5 - 8 mmol/L two hours after eating if your A1C targets are not being met

These numbers are general guidelines. Speak to your doctor about what target levels you should be aiming for. This is based on your age, how long you have had diabetes and other factors. Have an A1C test done every 3 months.

How do I lower my risk of health problems? 

  • Take your medications as prescribed to help manage your blood glucose. Take any other medications as prescribed as well.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Use this Diabetes Menu Plan to get started.
  • Get active for at least 150 minutes per week. That’s about 30 minutes a day on five days of the week. You can start with just 10 minute at a time.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Try these weight strategies that work.
  • Quit smoking
  • Check your feet every day. Learn about foot care from a diabetes educator.

Who can I go to for help? 

Your family doctor, endocrinologist (a doctor that specializes in diabetes), dietitian and nurse are there to support you with your diabetes.
 
You can also call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email for information and advice on managing your diabetes.

Bottom line 

Keeping blood glucose levels under control can help you reduce the risk of health problems related to diabetes. Taking prescribed medication, eating a balanced diet and being active can help control blood glucose levels and reduce diabetes-related health complications.

You may also be interested in 

How to manage diabetes
Diabetes risk factors
All about Diabetes Education Programs
Diabetes Complications Canadian Diabetes Association
 

Last Update – April 27, 2017

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.