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Diabetes is a complex chronic condition, and the challenges of daily self-management are difficult. However, there are a number of simple strategies that help those with diabetes manage their condition and prevent serious complications.
Diabetic? Don’t Forget About These 5 Tests
Here are important tests that people with diabetes should perform:
Blood Glucose Tests
Of course, we have to start with the most important diabetes management test. Blood glucose (“sugar“) control reduces the risk of complications caused by diabetes. Aside from at-home testing, it is recommended that those with diabetes see their doctor for an A1C test at least twice a year.
The A1C level, which is often converted into an estimated Average Glucose (eAG) number, can help determine your long-term blood glucose levels. A1C tests are the best way to assess diabetes management at this time.
Kidney Function and Damage by eGFR and ACR
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure across the world. Approximately 30 to 50% of people with diabetes develop Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). There are two tests that the National Kidney Foundation recommends people with diabetes take annually: eGFR and ACR.
Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) is the gold-standard measure of kidney function. eGFR estimates the kidney’s filtering ability using the result of a simple blood test for a waste product called creatinine, and other factors including age, sex, and race.
The Urine Albumin/Creatinine Ratio (UACR) test detects small amounts of the protein albumin in the urine. Increased UACR is often the first sign that the kidney’s filtering capacity is decreased and is often the first sign of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
According to the National Kidney Foundation, it is important for those with diabetes to take these tests annually because kidney disease often has no symptoms until it is very advanced.
LDL Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, and Triglycerides
Diabetes doubles the risk of heart and vascular problems including heart attacks and strokes. An important way to prevent these adverse events is to manage blood fats known as “lipids“.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol causes blockage in the arteries. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is a “good” type of cholesterol that removes cholesterol build-up in arteries.
Higher blood levels of another type of lipid, triglycerides, may also increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes. Discuss your heart and vascular risks with your health care providers to learn the recommended approach for management of your lipids.
Sight is a most precious sense. Diabetes can cause or exacerbate vision problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and damaged retinas. People with diabetes should be aware of a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, which can cause loss of eyesight.
Diabetic retinopathy can be detected by eye examination by diabetes specialists and eye doctors (optometrists, ophthalmologists). The early signs of diabetic retinopathy can be identified through a dilated eye exam.
Retinopathy can be treated by lasers and/or medication. People with both types 1 and 2 diabetes are recommended to have a dilated eye exam at least once per year to detect damage that may occur before vision loss.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when blood vessels become narrow or stiff, forcing the heart to pump harder to push blood through vessels. Poorly controlled hypertension damages many organs in including your kidneys, brain, and heart.
Hypertension can lead to heart enlargement and weakness and also increases risks of stroke and heart attack. Control of hypertension lowers risk for these, and other diabetic complications. Hypertension can be controlled with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.