7 Questions Everyone with Diabetes Should Answer
If you have diabetes, managing it well can lower your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The seven measures below are a good checklist for you to gauge how well you’re controlling diabetes. So ask yourself these questions and discuss your answers with your doctor.
1) Is Your Blood Sugar Under Control, According to an A1c Blood Test?
An A1c blood test is the main test used for managing diabetes. It shows your average blood sugar over the last three months. Improving your A1c score can reduce your risk for diabetes complications.
Your doctor may use the test to:
Decide whether or not you need medication
Adjust your medication dose
See if your treatment plan is successful
People with diabetes need this test at least twice a year. If your levels are high, you may need the test more often. Talk with your doctor about what level you should target.
2) Do You Take Your Medication as Prescribed?
Your doctor may have prescribed you medicine to lower your blood sugar or blood pressure. Taking it the right way can help you feel better and avoid health problems.
Be sure to:
Ask your doctor questions if you don’t understand his or her directions.
Fill your prescriptions before you run out so you don’t miss a dose.
Tell your doctor if you feel unpleasant side effects.
Communicate if you’re having trouble paying for prescription drugs.
3) Have You Had a Cholesterol Test in the Past Year?
High cholesterol levels increase your risk for heart problems. There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol, which is why regular screenings are so important. Most people with diabetes should have a blood test for cholesterol levels yearly.
4) Are Your Cholesterol Levels Under Control?
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the kind that clogs your arteries and can cause a heart attack or stroke. If your LDL cholesterol is high, you may be able to lower it with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Your doctor may also prescribe you cholesterol-lowering medicine.
Not all cholesterol is harmful. The “good” type of cholesterol is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It helps clear LDL cholesterol out of your body.
5) If You Have High Blood Pressure, Are You Taking the Right Medication for It?
High blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. People with diabetes are especially at risk for high blood pressure. You should have a blood pressure test every time you visit the doctor—it’s that important to your health.
If your blood pressure is high, it won’t just go away on its own. Lifestyle changes and medications can help.
There are many prescription medicines that lower blood pressure. But some are better than others for people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes that doctors usually prefer people with diabetes to take ACE inhibitors.
Talk with your doctor about the right medication for you. And make sure you’re keeping track of your numbers—the ADA recommends all hypertensive patients with diabetes monitor their blood pressure at home.
6) Have You Had an Eye Exam in the Past Year?
Diabetes-related eye diseases can impair your vision and may cause blindness if left untreated. Fortunately, an eye exam can catch these problems early, before they hurt your vision. Treatment can keep the diseases from worsening. If you have diabetes, see an eye doctor yearly.
7) Have You Had a Kidney Function Test in the Past Year?
Kidney failure is one of the most serious complications of diabetes. But if you catch kidney disease early, you can often prevent it from getting worse. A blood test or urine test can check for early signs of kidney damage. Be sure to have a kidney disease screening yearly.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. Caring for diabetes can help you feel better and may even save your life.