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While D stands for Discipline, I for Information and A for Attitude, the fourth letter ‘B’ of the word DIABETIC stands for the most important things a Diabetic needs to control – Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure.
Blood Sugar Control
The basic problem in Diabetes is that the body cannot manage sugar (which is referred to as Glucose). When food is eaten, it is converted in the intestine for the most part into glucose. It then enters the bloodstream and is carried to various parts of the body, whose cells then take up this glucose to use as fuel for their various activities. Excess glucose may also be taken up by the cells to be changed and stored as Fat or Glycogen.
In Diabetes, this process of the cells taking up glucose from the blood is impaired – with the result that glucose accumulates in the blood. If Blood which contains a high level of glucose flows through the body, the high concentration of glucose can damage the body’s various organs.
Although simplistic, this is an easy to understand picture of what happens in Diabetes – and should explain the importance of keeping one’s blood glucose in the normal range.
Knowing your blood glucose level at any time is an important aspect of managing diabetes – because it gives you an idea of how different foods can alter your blood glucose level. For example, if you find your blood glucose when you wake up (having fasted overnight) is 90 mg/dl – and then, after you have had a huge meal you test two hours later and find the blood glucose level is 270 mg/dl, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realise how a High Glycaemic meal like this alters your blood glucose.
Similarly, if you have just spent an hour doing a brisk walk and then test your blood glucose and find that it is at a respectable level, you have feedback on how exercise affects your blood glucose level – since muscles burn up excess glucose when exercised.
Blood Glucose Targets
Ideally, your blood glucose level after an overnight fast should be between 90 and 130 milligrams per decilitre (4 to 6 millimoles per litre). While blood glucose naturally rises after a meal, it should come down to less than 180 mgm/dl (6 mmol/L) about two hours after the meal.
In addition to knowing what your blood glucose is at a particular time, a very important test is the measurement of . Commonly referred to as HbA1C this gives a good indication of what your average blood glucose was over the preceding three months.
The letter ‘B’ also stands for Blood pressure. Many folk forget that Diabetes is a significant risk factor for heart disease. All other factors being equal, anyone who develops Diabetes has SIX times the risk of getting a heart attack as someone of the same age, sex and genetic makeup. Thus it is imperative that a Diabetic takes care to keep Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and weight under control and to stop smoking – in other words, control the risk factors and minimise the chances of suffering a heart attack.
Today, the target blood pressure recommended for someone who has Diabetes is 130/80 – so if are diabetic you should have your blood pressure checked regularly. If the pressure is persistently high, it may be necessary to take medicines to get this high blood pressure under control.
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