Know Your Numbers
When you’re trying to manage your diabetes, it’s all about the numbers. Your daily blood sugar probably comes to mind first. But there are other important numbers to know — and keeping track of them can help lower your risk of serious complications.
So what numbers matter most? What do they mean? What should your numbers be? Let’s take a closer look.
Daily Blood Sugar
Daily blood sugar checks help you see how well you’re managing your diabetes. Managing your diabetes means you have a lower risk of developing more serious health problems.
By checking your blood sugar, you can start seeing what makes those numbers go up or down. You may notice they go down when you’re more active. Or that they go up when you eat certain foods or get stressed.
A blood glucose meter lets you check your blood sugar. In general, your target blood sugar levels should be[i]:
● Before a meal: 80 to 130
● Two hours after a meal: Under 180
Remember — your health care team may also have target goals they want you to work to meet. Talk to your doctor about your personal target blood sugar level.
An A1C test shows your average blood sugar level over the past two or three months. Here are a few key things to know about your A1C:
● Your A1C level should be checked 2 to 4 times per year.
● You may need it checked more often if your treatment changes or your number is higher than your target goal.
● For most adults with diabetes, the A1C goal is 7% or lower[ii] — an average blood sugar of 154 mg/dL.
Blood pressure measures the force of blood pumping through your arteries when your heart beats. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have high blood pressure.[iii] Left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Usually, your target blood pressure range should be 120/80 mmHG or lower.[iv] However, for adults with diabetes your doctor may recommend that you aim for less than 140/80 mmHG. It’s important to talk to your healthcare team about your unique blood pressure goals.
If you have diabetes, high cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease you need to watch. According to Cleveland Clinic, diabetes can affect cholesterol levels.[v] Even if you’re managing your blood sugar, you may have decreased good cholesterol and higher bad cholesterol levels.
Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL. LDL (bad) cholesterol should be under 100 mg/dL. Your HDL (good) cholesterol should be 40 mg/dL or higher.[vi]
Knowing your numbers can help you manage diabetes and your overall health. Here are a few more tips to help you thrive:
● Keep your diabetes numbers in one location (like an app on your phone or in a journal).
● Talk to your healthcare team about your target goals for these numbers and work together to meet them.
● Build healthy habits that will make a difference — such as following your treatment plan, eating well and getting more active.
● Have a good support team around you. Family and friends want you to succeed, and they can help you stay motivated as you work towards your goals.