Regularly monitoring your health when you have diabetes is crucial to preventing the complications related to diabetes. These complications include heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye problems. For many, monitoring becomes something they don’t really have to think about anymore, and needn’t be something for you to worry about.
Home blood glucose testing
Unfortunately, unless your blood sugars are very high, relying on how you feel alone, is not a good indicator of whether your blood sugars are within the normal range. Therefore for many, monitoring blood levels at home becomes part of their daily routine.
Home blood glucose testing will give you an accurate picture of your blood glucose level at that the time of monitoring. You should endeavor to keep a record of your readings, so that your health care team can make adjustments to your treatment, where appropriate. You may also find it useful to keep a record of what you ate, or how stressed you were, as this may effect your blood glucose levels, particularly if your readings appear to be out of control.
What is your blood glucose target?
Diabetes UK currently recommend that you keep your blood glucose levels at 4-6 mmol/l before meals (preprandial), and at no higher than 10 mmol/l two hours after meals (postprandial). It is vitally important that you stick within the targets, as much as possible, as this can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes related complications, mentioned above.
At least once a year, your doctor should check your HbA1c level. This will give a good indication of diabetes control over the past 2 – 3 months. The HbA1c is a measure of the amount of glucose that is being carried by the red blood cells in the body.
What is your HbA1c target?
Your target for HbA1c is 6.5%, or below. Evidence shows that consistent readings below this levels can reduce the incidence of diabetic related complications, however any improvement in control is beneficial. Diabetes UK recommend that individuals at risk of severe hypoglycaemia should aim for an HbA1c of less than 7.5%.
If you are worried about blood glucose testing, please check out this article by Diabetes UK.
Other perimeters to be monitored, if you have diabetes:
- Aim for a blood pressure reading of 130/80mmHg, or less.
- Total cholesterol level should be below 4.0mmol/l.
- LDL levels should be less than 2.0mmol/l.
- HDL levels should be 1.0mmol/l, or above in men, and 1.2mmol/l, or above in women.
- Triglyceride levels should be 1.7mmol/l, or less.
This is the fifth in a series of discussions on diabetes. Please be sure to contact me with any other topics you would find useful on this subject.
Please note, if you have diabetes, you should be regularly monitored by your GP and dietitian. These notes are for general guidance only, and are not a substitute for regular diabetic checkups.