TOP TEN LIST: WHAT YOU ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY MUST KNOW TO STAY HEALTHY WITH YOUR DIABETES

How do I become educated about my diabetes?

  • Meet with diabetes eductors. This is most commonly done at a diabetes education centre.  Learn what and how to eat. Learn all about exercise. Stay current!  (I'm always learning, the educators are always learning; shouldn't you?).

How do I know if my blood sugars are under control?

  • Use a blood glucose meter. How often you use your meter wil depend on your particular situation and can vary from once a week (if, say, you are being treated with lifestyle therapy alone and your blood glucose control has been excellent) to 8 or more times per day (as would be the case if you have type 1 diabetes and are pregnant).
  • Have your A1C measured 3-4 times per year.
  • Aim for A blood glucose of 4-7 before meals, 5-10 two hours after meals, A1C 7 or less. (If your A1C is above 7 despite your blood glucose being within these targets, then aim for a lower two hour after-meal target of 5-8.) 

How often should I have my eyes examined?

  • Have a yearly (dilated) eye exam by a highly skilled optometrist or ophthalmologist. (if you have absolutely no diabetes damage then seeing your eye specialist somewhat less often is reasonable; if you have documented diabetes eye damage then seeing your eye specialist more often thatn yearly may be necessary.) 

 What should my cholesterol level be and how often should it be checked?

  • Aim for an LDL cholesterol of 2 or less.
  • Have your cholesterol level checked yearly (more often if a change in cholesterol medication has been made).

 What should my blood pressure be?

  • Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80. (This can be difficult to achieve and may require 3 or even 4 different types of blood pressure medications to help you.)

 How do I know if my heart is okay?

  • Keep an eye out for symptoms - such as chest discomfort or breathlessness - that may inidicate you have a heart problem. If you have these symptoms let your doctor know.
  • Have a periodic EKG and, depending on your situation, an exercise stress test.

How do I know if my kidneys are okay?

  • Do a yearly urine albumin/creatinine ratio test. The result should be less than 2.0.
  • Do a yearly creatinine/eGFR test.

 How can I prevent a foot infection?

  • Inspect your feet carefully on a daily basis. You are looking for areas of ulceration, blisters, inflammation, pus or other evidence of infection. 
  • Have your toenails cut carefully. if you have impaired vision or known nerve damage in your feet, don't cut your own toenails; have a foot care professional do it for you.
  • Have your physician examine your feet yearly (more often if you have known foot problems).

How can I avoid pneumonia?

  • Get an annual vaccination against influenza ("flu shot")  to help you avoid influenza.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccination to help you avoid pneumonia due to a bacteria called pneumococcus.
Am I at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke (and if I am what can I do to lower my risk)?
  • The Canadian Diabetes Association, under the stewardship of Dr. Alice Cheng, has created tools to help determine if a person with diabetes is at high risk of a heart attack and/or stroke and, if so, how to lower that risk (since heart attack and stroke are the two main killers of people living with diabetes it is essential that you know if you are at high risk and, if you are, what you can do to lower your risk):
    • You can find the video here.
    • You can find the lay version of the tool here.
    • You can find the professional version of the tool here.