Regular Checkups Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes Complications
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects an estimated 30.3 million people in the United States and is the 7th leading cause of death. In addition, 84.1 million people are estimated to have pre-diabetes with approximately 7.2 million people living unknowingly with the disease.
By following a treatment plan that is updated by your medical provider as needed, the risk of major complications from diabetes becoming life-threatening can be greatly reduced.
- Are you newly diagnosed with diabetes and feel overwhelmed and confused?
- Do you have diabetes and want more information on healthy eating, physical activity, medications, and monitoring your condition?
If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, it is important to get the Hemoglobin A1C test done quarterly. This test will average your blood glucose (blood sugar) control from the previous 2-3 months. Hemoglobin is a protein in your blood that links up with sugars like glucose. The HA1C test measures the average of glycated hemoglobin in your blood. With this information in hand, your medical provider can determine if your treatment plan is still successful or if changes need to be made. If your current treatment plan is no longer suitable and adjustments to your plan are not made, then over time disabling or life-threatening complications can develop.
Complications from Unchecked Diabetes Can Include:
- cardiovascular disease
- damage to your nerves, kidneys, eyes or feet
- skin conditions
- hearing impairment
Additionally, blindness and amputations are common results of damage caused by some of these complications. You may know someone who has suffered greatly from diabetes complications. This reality is why the HA1C test is so essential to maintaining a stable, healthy blood glucose level.
What do your test results indicate?
An A1C result of 6.5% or above is a diagnosis of diabetes. 5.7-6.4 is considered pre-diabetes. These numbers may vary slightly depending on the laboratory used. During the pre-diabetes stage, studies have shown 7% weight loss and 150 minutes of physical activity per week will delay the onset of diabetes. A good goal for the A1C is to keep it under 7%. Recommendations for the A1C goal may vary depending on a patient’s age. The A1C result will help to guide your physician and the diabetes education team for treatment recommendations.
You are not alone. St. Margaret’s has many diabetes resources available to help you manage your disease and avoid these serious complications. Learn more about our Diabetes Education Program and Diabetes Resource Team below.
Diabetes Education Program
St. Margaret’s Diabetes Education Program can help you regain control and obtain clarity about your health.
The St. Margaret’s Hospital Diabetes Education Program is accredited through the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). Diabetes self-care education is provided by a Diabetes Lifestyle Coach who possesses extensive knowledge and experience in diabetes prevention and management. The program educator is dedicated to assisting those with prediabetes, gestational diabetes, and type 1 or type 2 diabetes to overcome challenges and improve self-care knowledge in order to establish a healthy lifestyle routine.
A provider referral is required for education appointments so talk to your medical provider about your concerns.
St. Margaret’s Diabetes Resource Team
At St. Margaret’s, the diabetes education team includes nurses and dietitians who specialize in diabetes education.
Diabetes educators are trained to help patients self-manage their diabetes successfully. According to the American Association of Diabetes educators, there are seven self-care behaviors to managing diabetes. All seven of these self-care behaviors can have an impact on managing and delaying the progression of diabetes.
We focus on the AADE’s (American Association of Diabetes Educators) 7 Self-Care Behaviors:
Meeting with a registered dietitian and making lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and being active, has been shown to lower the A1C by 1-2%. Healthy eating does not mean that you are starving your body or that you do not enjoy the food you eat. Healthy eating for diabetes includes most foods, while others are only in moderation. For example, you can have carbohydrates in moderation, but they are not eliminated. It is also important to think about getting 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The type of protein sources and portion sizes are important as well, because meat and dairy products are higher in saturated fats and cholesterol, which may lead to heart disease. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease, so it is good to limit these types of foods.
Another important lifestyle component is exercising or being active. A minimum of 150 minutes per week has been shown to provide a wide range of benefits, including lowering blood sugars and A1C, improving heart health, and helping to manage stress and weight. Since some individuals are not able to exercise in the traditional sense, we recommend other ways to stay active, such as chair exercises or water activities. Taking the stairs and parking further away to get more walking in can help too.
Control of blood sugars and checking levels at home is important. This may show a specific time that a blood sugar may be at target, above, or below target. Food and activity or medication adjustments may be necessary to help your body perform at its best.
There are many types of medications that also may be necessary to help control diabetes. A number of medications may work together to lower your blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications.
Problem solving skills are also important. Everyone meets challenges or barriers while managing their diabetes at some point. Be prepared to problem solve in order to overcome these obstacles.
Reducing risks. Diabetes puts you at a higher risk for developing other health problems. If you understand these risks, you can take steps to lower your chance of complications. Some examples include getting an annual eye exam, staying up to date on immunizations, or getting regular foot exams.
Healthy coping will help to process mixed feelings about your diabetes management, highs, and lows. Diabetes can affect you both physically and emotionally and stress can raise your blood sugar, even if you are following a healthy lifestyle and taking your medications.
Together, all of these seven self-care behaviors are important to manage diabetes. The diabetes education team can teach you how to manage diabetes, so it is controlled and delay progression of the disease.
The St. Margaret’s Diabetes Resource Team is committed to continuing your prediabetes & diabetes care through and following this pandemic. We are offering secure virtual care visits to provide the best disease management, diabetes prevention, healthy eating, & physical activity advice.
Virtual care visits are offered over the phone or via webcam. All you will need is a computer, smart phone, or smart tablet to connect with a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist, Registered Nurse, or Registered Dietitian.
While we understand that virtual care visits cannot replace all face-to-face care, we have been successful helping patients lower their A1C levels, stress levels, & blood pressures after a series of virtual visits with our team. These visits are beneficial because they allow patients to have regular contact with their care team & receive much needed support during these trying times
Still feel that virtual visits are not for you? We are offering limited, one-on-one, face-to-face appointments on a case by case basis. We are here to make sure you receive the care & support you need!
St. Margaret’s Diabetes Resource Team is still committed to providing DSMT (Diabetes Self-Management Training), which offers practical how-to education & training on nutrition & healthy eating; exercise, physical activity, & resistance training; diabetes medications; diabetes care technology (such as: Continuous Glucose Monitors, Insulin Pumps, & Insulin Management systems); and many other topics patients need to know in order to stay healthy!
People who have completed our program have expressed improved health & confidence in managing their diabetes, better blood sugar levels & A1C, minimized adverse effects of diabetes, & fewer ER visits & hospitalizations.
Already completed our program? We are still here for you! We offer continuing support & individualized care plans for every patient. We can help you take charge of your health & wellness!