Monitoring Your Diabetes

Daily monitoring of blood sugar levels is an important part of diabetes care along with frequent monitoring of blood pressure and cholesterol levels to help prevent long-term complications. Monitoring isn’t hard to do. Your diabetes care provider or pharmacist can show you how.

 

The times of testing will depend on the type of diabetes you have, your A1C level and what medications you are on. There are two types of testing: Fasting (after not eating for eight or more hours) and Postprandial (two hours after a meal).

 

Type 1 diabetes: Your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing two or more times a day. Testing may be done before and after certain meals, before and after exercise, before bed and occasionally during the night. You may also need to check your blood sugar level more often if you are ill, change your daily routine or begin a new medication.

 

Type 2 diabetes: Your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing one or more times a day, depending on the type of medication you take. Testing is commonly done before meals, after fasting for at least eight hours and sometimes after meals, if instructed by your provider. If you manage type 2 diabetes with non-insulin medications, or with diet and exercise alone, you may not need to test your blood sugar daily.

 

Please check with your diabetes care provider or pharmacist to discuss when and how often you should test.

There are many available options for blood glucose meters; your pharmacist or diabetes educator can help select the one that best meets your needs.

Things to consider include:

  • The size of the meter, in particular the screen
  • The shape of the meter, and location of where the test strip goes
  • Ability to store readings and other special functions, such as tracking insulin doses or meals
  • Coding of each new vial of test strips

If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk for other complications such as heart disease or kidney disease. So while it is vital to monitor blood sugar levels daily, it is equally important to manage the ABCs of diabetes. Doing so, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as kidney failure and blindness.

 

A1C (Blood Sugar)

In addition to tracking your blood glucose every day, you also need to know if over time your treatment plan is working for you. An A1C (glycated hemoglobin) test can help. This blood test measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months and is reported as a percentage. If your A1C number stays too high, your risk for complications may increase and your treatment plan may need to be changed.

This test should be done every 3 to 6 months. Although your A1C goals should be personalized by your diabetes care provider, the general recommendation by the American Diabetes Association is less than 7%.

 

Blood Pressure

For patients with diabetes, controlling your blood pressure is just as important as controlling your blood sugar. High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Blood pressure should be measured at every routine diabetes visit.

Blood pressure goals should be individualized, however the general recommendation by the American Diabetes Association is less than 140/90mmHg.

Treatment for high blood pressure should include lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and being active. Drug treatment should begin if blood pressure is above 140 or 90mmHg.

Specific drugs within the classes of ACE Inhibitors or ARBs are suggested as first-line treatment for people with diabetes and high blood pressure by the ADA.

 

Cholesterol

Having diabetes increases your risk for high cholesterol, which in turn increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol goals should be individualized.

Treatment for high cholesterol should include lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and being active. Drugs called statins are the preferred drug to treat high cholesterol in people with diabetes and are generally recommended for all patients with diabetes over the age of 40.