What the ABCs Are
People with diabetes have an increased risk of death from several causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
In order to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes, you need better management of 3 critical factors. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has nicknamed these the ABCs:
"A" Is For the A1C Test to Measure Blood Sugar
Short for hemoglobin A1C, the A1C test is a blood test that measures how your blood sugar levels have been averaging over the past 3 months. Depending on the severity of your disease, your A1C level should be checked about 3-4 times a year. Your doctor will determine an A1C goal for you.
"B" Is For Blood Pressure
To reduce your risk of diabetes complications, NDEP points out that the goal should be to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg, unless your doctor sets a different goal for you.
"C" Is For Cholesterol
LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should be less than 100. People with diabetes should also try to raise HDL (good) cholesterol to above 40 (men) and 50 (women) and lower triglyceride levels.
Steps to Lower Heart Disease Risk
People with diabetes in the United States may not be getting the kind of care they need to prevent heart disease. But NDEP urges people with diabetes to gain control of their A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol. A good place to begin is by asking your doctor 3 important questions about your ABCs:
- What are my A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers?
- What are my personal treatment goals?
- What do I need to do to reach these goals?
Having diabetes doesn't mean you will develop other complications. You may be able to prevent them and add years to your life by managing your ABCs and following the treatment plan you worked on with your doctor.
American Diabetes Association
National Diabetes Education Program
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
Canadian Diabetes Association
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For people of African, Mediterranean, or Southeast Asian Heritage: important information about diabetes blood tests. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diagnostic-tests/people-african-mediterranean-southeast-asian-heritage-important-information-diabetes-blood-tests/Pages/index.aspx. Updated October 2011. Accessed September 26, 2017.
Glycemic goals in type 2 diabetes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T270054. Updated March 2, 2017. Accessed September 26, 2017.
High blood pressure (hypertension). American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/high-blood-pressure-hypertension.html. Updated August 21, 2013. Accessed September 26, 2017.
Step 2: know your diabetes ABCs. (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol). National Diabetes Education Program website. Available at: http://ndep.nih.gov/i-have-diabetes/KnowYourABCs.aspx. Accessed September 26, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 8/31/2015