Why It Is Important?
ABC of Diabetes
Staying as Healthy as Possible is Imperative for Diabetes Management

If you have diabetes (sometimes called diabetes mellitus), the most important thing you can do is to control your "ABCs":
  • "A" stands for "A1C" – A1C is a blood test that shows what your average blood sugar level has been during the last few months.
  • "B" stands for "blood pressure" – If you have 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.
  • "C" stands for "cholesterol" – Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. High cholesterol is another factor that increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other serious problems.
Even so, blood sugar is just one of the things that should get your attention. That's because the problems caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol are often more serious than the ones caused by high blood sugar.
Maintaining ABC is Important
Compared with people who do not have diabetes, people who have diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. People with diabetes also have heart attacks at a younger age, and that are more severe and more deadly. Plus, people with diabetes are much more likely to get kidney disease.

By keeping your ABCs under control, you can lower your risk of these problems by a lot.

Keeping blood sugar low is important in preventing some problems caused by diabetes, including:

  • Eye diseases that lead to vision loss or blindness.
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage (called "neuropathy") that can cause numbness or pain in the hands and feet
  • The need to have toes, fingers, or other body parts removed by surgery (amputated)
Even so, blood sugar is just one of the things that should get your attention. That's because the problems caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol are often more serious than the ones caused by high blood sugar.
ABC Levels
The levels you should aim for will depend on how severe your diabetes is, how old you are, and what other health problems you have. Ask your doctor what your target levels should be.

Many people with diabetes aim for:

  • A1C levels below 7 percent.
  • Blood pressure below 140/90, or lower in some cases.
  • LDL cholesterol level below 100 (LDL is one type of cholesterol, often called the "bad cholesterol").
Steps to Control ABCs
Work with your doctor to create a plan to keep your ABCs under control. Your plan might include:

  • Medicines – Most people with diabetes take medicine every day to control their blood sugar. They might also need to check their blood sugar level every day. Plus, many people with diabetes need medicines every day to treat high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or to prevent future health problems.
  • Lifestyle changes – Choices you make every day about the foods you eat and the way you live can have a big impact on your ABCs and your general health. Your choices can help to keep your ABCs under control or reduce your health risks:
    • Make healthy food choices – Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Limit the amount of meat and fried or fatty foods that you eat.
    • Be active – Walk, garden, or do something active for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.
    • Stop smoking – Smoking increases the chance that you will have a heart attack or stroke, or develop cancer.
    • Lose weight – Being overweight increases the risk of many health problems.
    • Avoid alcohol – Alcohol can increase blood sugar and blood pressure.
Luckily, many of the lifestyle changes above can improve all 3 of the ABCs. For instance, being active and losing weight can help control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Ways to Get Your ABCs Under Control

What you can do
Take your medicines every day
Eat a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol but rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products
Limit the amount of salt (sodium) you eat
Be active
Lose weight if you are overweight
Avoid alcohol
Hemoglobin A1C
Hemoglobin A1C is a blood test that shows what your average blood sugar level has been for the past 3 months. Doctors use this test:

  • To see whether a person has diabetes.
  • To see whether diabetes treatment is working the right way.
Other names for hemoglobin A1C are "glycatedhemoglobin," "HbA1C," or just "A1C".
Know your A1C Numbers
  • When checking for diabetes – If you had an A1C test to see if you have diabetes, your A1C should be 6 or less.
    • If your A1C is 6.5 or higher, it probably means you have diabetes, but you should have the test done again to be sure.
    • If your A1C is between 5.7 and 6.4, you are at risk for getting diabetes. You should probably start doing things that can help prevent diabetes. For example, you should become more active and lose weight (if you are overweight).
  • When checking how treatment is working – If you already know you have diabetes, and you had an A1C test to see how well controlled your blood sugar is,your A1C should probably be 7 or less. But you need to check with your doctor on what your level should be. Not everyone with diabetes is the same.
How Often Should I have an A1C Test?
That depends on whether you have diabetes and on what your last A1C test showed..
  • If you had an A1C test to check for diabetes and your A1C was less than 5.7 (meaning you do NOT have diabetes), you should have A1C tests done every 3 years.
  • If you had an A1C test to check for diabetes and your A1C was between 5.7 and 6.4 (meaning you do not have diabetes but are at risk for it), you should have A1C tests done every year.
  • If you do have diabetes and your blood sugar is well controlled, you should have A1C tests every 6 months.
  • If you have diabetes and you recently changed treatment plans or you are having trouble controlling your blood sugar, you should have A1C tests every 3 months.
Keeping A1C numbers close to normal helps keep people from getting:
  • Diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that can cause blindness.
  • Nerve damage caused by diabetes (also called neuropathy).
  • Kidney disease.
For people with newly diagnosed diabetes, keeping the A1C close to normal might also prevent heart attacks and strokes in the future.
Is Routine Testing of Blood Sugar at Home Still Required
If your doctor wants you to check your blood sugar at home, you should keep doing so even if you have routine A1C tests. Blood sugar tests tell you what your blood sugar is on daily basis. That's important information to have, because it lets you know if your medications and lifestyle changes are keeping your blood sugar in a safe range.
A1C Level And Average Blood Sugar

If your A1C level is (percent) Your blood sugar is measured in millimoles/liter (mmol/L):
5 5.4
6 7
7 8.6
8 10.2
9 11.8
10 13.3
11 15
12 16.5
13 18.1
14 19.7