You most likely have heard words from your health care team (or a variation of it) ”You need to keep your blood glucose in control”. Do you know why or is it because your doctor told you to do this? It is important to know why you need to keep your blood glucose in control and then actually come up with a plan to do just that.

5 reasons to manage your blood glucoseThis blog will explore five reasons to keep blood glucose in control. Hopefully it will help you think about beneficial reasons for you and if needed, work with your healthcare team to come up with an action plan to do just that! An action plan helps you define clear measures to help you keep your blood glucose in control. We will explore examples of action plans.

A major study with over 1400 subjects that had type 1 diabetes for 1-15 years, evaluated if keeping blood glucose levels in control, or as close to normal levels as possible, is beneficial. Subjects did not have any signs of diabetic eye disease when they started the study. Results showed that subjects were able to delay time of onset and slow the progression of many typical problems that occur with diabetes when they had tight control. Eye, kidney and nerve problems were included in the positive results. Results were positive even when individuals had a poor history of good blood glucose control. (1)

At the conclusion of the study, approximately 90 percent of the participants continued to be followed.  Findings included evidence that when an individual has diabetes and tightly controls their blood glucose, they also lower related cardiovascular health problems compared to individuals not implementing tight control. (1)

Type 2 Diabetes:  More studies comparing blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes are needed. Duration of type 2 diabetes is a factor that needs research. Patients that have had type 2 diabetes for more than 12 years appear to have cardiovascular benefits from tight control. Renowned trials on patients with type 2 diabetes (ACCORD and ADVANCE) had subjects with pre-existing risk factors for cardiovascular disease or the disease itself. (2) So again, comparable studies need to take place.

The statistics in this article come from The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).  (1) 

In subjects having type 1 diabetes, the following results were found:

1. A 76 percent reduction in the risk of developing retinopathy (a type of eye disease common in people with diabetes). Statistics show that diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the United States in people under the age of 65 years.

For information on retinopathy: 

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

2. A 50 percent reduction in the risk of kidney disease. According to NIDDK, people with type 1 diabetes have a 33% are shown to have kidney disease 15 years after diagnosis. 

For information on kidney disease:

Important Questions about the Kidneys and Diabetes 

3. A 60 percent reduction in the risk of nerve disease (neuropathy)

For information on neuropathy:

Five Related Foot Problems

Nerve Damage

4. An overall reduction of 42% risk of any cardiovascular disease

For information on cardiovascular disease:

Cardiovascular Disease

5. A 57 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks, or stokes that are not fatal.

National Diabetes Information Clearing House - Diabetes Control and Complications

For information on heart attacks:

Coronary Disease

For information on stroke: 

Stroke 

As you can see, maintaining blood glucose as near to normal can have positive benefits for many people with diabetes but blood glucose goals need to be individualized with help from your healthcare team. For general guidelines on blood glucose numbers recommended by diabetes experts, click here: http://www.diabetescare.net/authors/clara-schneider/7-important-numbers-people-with-diabetes-need-to-know Again, your blood glucose goals should be individualized and care should be taken to consider factors such as the risks of low blood glucose and life expectancy.

Action Plans:

To write an action plan you need to decide what measurable actions you will take and when you will do it.  If the action plan is designed to help you keep your blood glucose in control, this must be included.

3 Action plan examples to help control blood glucose

  1. Make an appointment with my doctor tomorrow and ask for help with my blood glucose targets (fasting, before meals and 1-2 hours after the first bite of a meal.
  2. Request an appointment to take place in 2 weeks with my diabetes educator. Every day until the appointment takes place, write down all the foods I eat, the time and the amount and also test my blood glucose before each meal and 1-2 hours from the first bite.
  3. Every Sunday, fill my pill box with my oral diabetes medications and take the medications as ordered by my physician.
  4. Diabetescare.net wants to help you understand and effectively manage your diabetes. Make sure you know your goals and why it is helpful to control your values. Make action plans with your diabetes team and follow-through. Understand and follow current research in diabetes. We want you to be the healthiest you can be!

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