November 1, 2005
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Marge Dwyer or Jenny Eriksen, Joslin Communications
Joslin Diabetes Center Offers Tips For Living Well with Diabetes
Six Tests Help People With Diabetes Avoid Complications
BOSTON -- Are you among the more than 20 million Americans with diabetes? Are you doing all that you can to avoid future complications such as heart disease, kidney failure and blindness?
Experts at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston say getting involved with your own care, and knowing how well your treatment plan is working, is crucial to diabetes management. "Regularly monitoring your blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure--and keeping them at or below target levels--along with periodic eye and foot exams and kidney function tests help to prevent or slow diabetes complications," says Martin J. Abrahamson, M.D., Medical Director at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Joslin experts recommend that all people with diabetes be aware of their results on these tests to help manage diabetes:
- A1C Test:This important blood test reflects the average blood glucose reading for 8-12 weeks before the test. This test, done by a health professional, gives a comprehensive snapshot of your diabetes management and should be done every 3 to 6 months. Joslin recommends an A1C value of less than 7.0 percent as a general rule. The AlC should be as low as possible without increasing the risk of other complications, such as hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). If your A1C is elevated, increasing physical activity, losing weight and talking to your physician about altering medications may help.
- Blood Pressure:Checking blood pressure and treating elevated levels is important to reduce the risk of blood vessel damage. Because high blood pressure is a silent killer, it is important to have it checked by your healthcare team at each appointment, and at least twice yearly. Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80. Physical activity, losing weight, quitting smoking and medications can help lower blood pressure. Your healthcare team will determine which of these is most appropriate for you.
- Urinary Microalbumin:To detect the earliest evidence of kidney disease, your doctor should check your urine microalbumin levels at least annually. The normal albumin level in the urine is less than 30 mg. Keeping your A1C and blood pressure at target levels is the best way to prevent and treat albuminuria. Your physician can prescribe specific medications to treat high levels of microalbumin.
- Lipids:Monitoring your blood fat levels annually is important because diabetes and high fat levels pose significant risk factors for heart attack and stroke. There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (the good cholesterol that protects against heart disease) and LDL (the bad kind that can damage your heart). Your LDL levels should be below 100, and even under 70 for those at very high risk. This can be achieved by physical activity, losing weight, eating a diet lower in saturated fats and, if prescribed by a physician, taking cholesterol-lowering medications. Joslin recommends HDL levels of greater than 40 for men, and greater than 50 for women. Triglycerides, another blood fat, should be below 150 mg/dl.
- Eye Exam:Diabetes puts people at risk for cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. An annual dilated eye exam can identify eye complications early on. If your doctor finds early signs of eye disease, laser eye surgery, contact lenses, glasses and medications may be recommended. Keeping your A1C level on target, controlling blood pressure and quitting smoking also can help prevent vision loss.
- Foot Exam:Because diabetes can affect the circulation and impair sensation (neuropathy), have your feet checked at least annually for altered sensation, decreased circulation and/or infection.
Joslin Diabetes Center Fact Sheets
About Joslin Diabetes Center
Joslin Diabetes Center, dedicated to conquering diabetes in all of its forms, is the global leader in diabetes research, care and education. Founded in 1898, Joslin is an independent nonprofit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Joslin research is a team of more than 300 people at the forefront of discovery aimed at preventing and curing diabetes. Joslin Clinic, affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the nationwide network of Joslin Affiliated Programs, and the hundreds of Joslin educational programs offered each year for clinicians, researchers and patients, enable Joslin to develop, implement and share innovations that immeasurably improve the lives of people with diabetes. As a nonprofit, Joslin benefits from the generosity of donors in advancing its mission. For more information on Joslin, call 1-800-JOSLIN-1 or visit www.joslin.org.
Last Updated: Wednesday November 02, 2005 14:56:21
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