Please don’t be misled by false claims. Managing diabetes is far from being as simple as ABC, as some supplement sellers might suggest. It involves constant ups and downs. Diabetes management encompasses more than just controlling blood sugar levels, there are other crucial factors to consider.
In this article, we want to emphasize the importance of taking care of your ABC - where A stands for HbA1c, B for blood pressure, and C for cholesterol - in order to manage your blood sugar effectively.
A - HbA1c
Most people with diabetes are familiar with regularly checking their blood sugar by pricking their fingers and using a blood glucose meter. However, this method only provides information on short-term blood sugar readings.
HbA1c, or glycated haemoglobin, is a blood test that measures the average amount of sugar(glucose) in your blood over the past 3 months. It provides important information about how well your body is managing blood sugar levels.
HbA1c is typically expressed as a percentage. For example, a score of 7% means that, on average, about 7% of your haemoglobin has glucose attached to it. The target HbA1c level for people with diabetes varies depending on individual factors, but in general, a lower HbA1c indicates better blood sugar control and reduced risk of diabetes-related complications.
According to the Malaysia Ministry of Health’s Diabetes guideline, keeping HbA1c level below 7% is a general goal for most people with diabetes.
B - Blood pressure
Many individuals with diabetes also experience high blood pressure, often known as “hypertensive diabetes”. Managing blood pressure is important for people with diabetes because high blood pressure can significantly increase the risk of various complications and health problems.
High blood pressure can exacerbate diabetes-related nerve damage(neuropathy), leading to various issues such as numbness, tingling, pain and impaired coordination. Moreover, both diabetes and high blood pressure are leading causes of chronic kidney disease. When both conditions are present, they can accelerate the progression of kidney damage.
Additionally, other health conditions like cardiovascular health, eye health, and wound healing can also be affected by the combination of diabetes and high blood pressure.
According to the Malaysia Clinical Practice Guideline for Diabetes, it is ideal to maintain blood pressure within the range of 130-139/70-79 mmHg (130-139 for systolic and 70-79 for diastolic pressure).
C - Cholesterol
Another lesser-known fact is the close relationship between blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Elevated blood sugar levels in diabetes can contribute to changes in cholesterol levels. High blood sugar levels promote the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which damage blood vessels and contribute to inflammation. Consequently, this process can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol levels (often referred to as “bad cholesterol” level) and a decrease in HDL cholesterol level.
Moreover, diabetes can also impact triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood, and elevated levels are often associated with insulin resistance, a hallmark of diabetes. High triglyceride levels, combined with low HDL cholesterol levels, can contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The target lipid profile, as outlined in the Malaysia Diabetes Guideline, is as follows:
Effectively managing your diabetes requires taking care of your “ABC” - HbA1c, blood pressure and cholesterol. These factors play a crucial role in maintaining optimal blood sugar control and reducing the risk of complications. Remember, knowledge alone is not enough, taking action is essential.
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