Taking ownership of your heart health by monitoring some basic health numbers can contribute to a longer, healthier life. Paying attention to blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight are important for everyone, but especially for individuals living with diabetes, who are twice as likely to develop and die from heart disease, strokes or heart failure.Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for severe complications from COVID-19, so it is more important than ever for people living with diabetes to be aware of critical numbers and keep their diabetes well managed.Diabetes management is especially essential for Hispanic/Latino Americans, who have a 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes and suffering devastating complications from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”My message for others living with diabetes is that we have control and choices,” says Lupe Barraza, who lives with type 2 diabetes and is a spokesperson for Know Diabetes by Heart, an initiative of the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.”Managing key health numbers can help you prevent complications from diabetes, like heart failure and kidney disease,” Barraza says.”You don’t have to wait until you get sick to go to the doctor. You and your doctor should work together now to keep you from getting sick,” she emphasizes.Five key numbers all people living with diabetes should measure regularly are:
- BMI (body mass index). Your BMI is an estimate of body size based on height and weight that is used to help determine if you’re overweight or obese. A normal BMI usually ranges from 18.6 to 24.9 and can be calculated at home using a BMI calculator or in a doctor’s office.
- Blood Pressure. Blood pressure is how strongly the blood pumps through your body when your heart beats, and is a sign of heart health. A healthy blood pressure for most people is less than 120/80, but your doctor may give you a different goal based on your diabetes. Blood pressure can be measured at home if you have a blood pressure monitor, or in a doctor’s office.
- A1C. Your A1C is a measure of average blood glucose levels for the past two to three months. A healthy A1C for someone with diabetes is 7 percent or less. A1C is measured by a blood test and should be checked at least every six months if you have diabetes.
- Cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance in the blood. If cholesterol levels are too high, they can cause fatty deposits in blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is measured by a fasting blood test in a doctor’s office.
- Kidney function. Early detection of chronic kidney disease (CKD) can make a huge difference. An often overlooked, simple test is the UACR (urine albumin to creatinine ratio) which can detect early signs of trouble. Kidney function is measured in a doctor’s office and should be done every year.
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