Know Your Numbers and Learn the ABC of Diabetes | Accu-Chek®
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Know Your Numbers and Learn the ABC of Diabetes

Knowing your numbers is an important part of managing diabetes and understanding your diabetes symptoms. While your daily blood sugar may come to mind first, there are other numbers, to familiarize yourself with. 

Keeping track of these important health numbers can help to lower your risk of serious complications. These numbers are:

  • HbA1c (A1C)
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol 

Here’s a helpful breakdown of what numbers matter most, what your numbers should be, and what they mean as part of your treatment plan.

Daily Blood Sugar

Checking your blood sugar levels on a daily basis can help you see how well you’re managing your diabetes, which can potentially lower your risk of developing more serious health problems. It can also show you what is making your daily blood sugar levels go up or down. For example, you may notice that they decrease when you’re more active, or increase when you eat certain foods or feel stressed.

In order to check your blood sugar levels and get an accurate reading, you’ll need to use a blood glucose meter.

Then, you can compare your numbers with these target blood sugar levels:1

  • Before a meal: 4.4 and 7.2 mmol/L
  • Two hours after a meal: Under 10 mmol/L

Keep in mind that your healthcare team may also have personalized target goals they want you to work to meet, so it’s important to speak to your doctor to get the number that’s specific to you.

HbA1c or A1c Levels

If you’re wondering “What is HbA1c?”, here’s a simple explanation: HbA1c reflects the average of your blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months. Your HbA1c levels, also called A1c levels, can be determined by taking an HbA1c test.1

Your doctor may refer to this test by another name, such as the: glycated hemoglobin test.

  • Glycosylated hemoglobin test.
  • Hemoglobin A1c test.
  • A1c test.

Here are a few important things to know about your A1c:

  • Your A1c levels should be checked 2 to 4 times per year using an A1c test.1
  • If your treatment changes or your number is higher than your target goal, then you may need to have your A1c levels checked more often. 
  • For most adults with diabetes, the A1c goal is 7% or lower1 —, which corresponds to an estimated average blood sugar of 8.6 mmol/L.

The only way to get a complete picture of your blood sugar control is by reviewing your day-to-day self-checks along with your regular A1c tests, and working closely with your healthcare team to interpret the results.

Blood Pressure and Diabetes

You’ve probably had your blood pressure taken at a doctor’s visit, but you might not know what is actually being measured. When the healthcare professional shares your blood pressure numbers, it represents the force at which blood is pumping through your arteries when your heart beats, in the following format:

  • The top number shows systolic pressure (when your heart beats)
  • The bottom number shows diastolic pressure (when the heart is resting)

Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

People with diabetes are twice as likely to have high blood pressure,2 and left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Generally speaking, your target blood pressure range should be 120/80 mmHG or lower.3 But if you are an adult with diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you aim for less than 140/90 mmHG.4 

Talk to your healthcare team about your personalized blood pressure goals.

Cholesterol and Diabetes

Along with blood pressure, you may have had a cholesterol test (also called a lipid panel or lipid profile), which measures the quantity of four types of fats in your blood. 

  • Total cholesterol: The total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
  • Bad cholesterol (LDL): Too many low-density lipoproteins can build up to reduce or block blood flow in the arteries.
  • Good cholesterol (HDL): High-density lipoproteins help remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries to keep blood flowing.
  • Triglycerides: Another form of fat that can raise your risk for heart disease.

Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease that people with diabetes should keep an eye on. 

Diabetes and High Cholesterol

It is well known that diabetes can affect your cholesterol levels.5 Even if you’re properly managing your blood sugar, you may have decreased HDL cholesterol and higher LDL cholesterol levels.

Here’s what to look for with your cholesterol levels: 

  • The total cholesterol number should be less than 5.17 mmol/L. 
  • Bad cholesterol (LDL) levels should be under 5.6 mmol/L. 
  • Good cholesterol (HDL) levels should be 1.3 mmol/L or higher.6

Tips to Help You Thrive with Diabetes

Now that you know your diabetes numbers, these tips can help you take the next steps toward making informed decisions about your health:

  • Keep your diabetes numbers in one location (like an app on your phone or in a journal).
  • Talk to your healthcare team about your personalized numbers and target goals and work together to meet them.
  • Build healthy habits that will make a difference, from following treatment plans and eating well, to getting more active. 
  • Surround yourself with a strong support team full of the people in your life who are dedicated to your success. They can help you stay motivated as you work toward your goals.

Sources (Results in the references have been adjusted in the article to reflect Canadian unit of measures):
1 ElSayed NA, Aleppo G, Aroda VR, et al. 6. Glycemic Targets: Standards of Care in Diabetes—2023. Diabetes Care. 2022;46(Supplement_1):S97-S110. doi:10.2337/dc23-S006 
2 Johns Hopkins Medicine Accessed July 1, 2023 
3 American Heart Association Accessed July 1, 2023 
4 Salanitro AH, Roumie CL. Blood pressure management in patients with diabetes. Clinical Diabetes. 2010;28(3):107-114. doi:10.2337/diaclin.28.3.107
5 Cleveland Clinic Accessed July 1, 2023 
6 Medical News Today Accessed July 1, 2023 

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