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Diabetes Control Improving, but Far From Ideal

By Miriam E. Tucker
Medscape Medical News

Feb. 19, 2013 -- People with diabetes are more often hitting recommended targets for blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, but fewer than 20% are meeting all three, according to new data from an ongoing national health survey.

Doctors treating people with diabetes look at three different goals called the ABCs: A1c level, blood pressure, and cholesterol. People with diabetes who achieve these goals lower their risk of health complications and death.

The survey tracked close to 1,500 adults from 2007 to 2010. It found that 52.5% of adults achieved A1c levels below 7%, the target recommended by the American Diabetes Association. The A1c test reveals your blood sugar control over the past two to three months.

For blood pressure, the percentage of people that hit the desired target of less than 130/80 was 51.1%.

For LDL or “bad” cholesterol, the percentage with less than 100 mg/dL was 56.2%. Statins helped more than 40% of people reach this goal.

Overall, though, only about 1 in 5 patients achieved all three "ABC" goals. That's a significant jump from 1.7% in 1988-1994, but there is still much room for improvement, the researchers say.

"Achieving the ABC goals remains [low] among adults with diabetes, particularly in some minority groups," they write.

Younger people were also less likely to meet A1c and cholesterol goals.

"Despite the strong scientific evidence showing the benefits of ABC control and statin use in reducing complications, many patients are not achieving ABC targets or taking statins," writes researcher Sarah Stark Casagrande, PhD, from Social & Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Md.

"As the U.S. population ages and diabetes prevalence increases, it becomes increasingly urgent to find ways to overcome barriers to good diabetes management and deliver affordable, quality care so those with diabetes can live a longer and healthier life without serious diabetes complications," the researchers conclude.

The findings were published online in Diabetes Care.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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