Numbers You Need to Know When You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you know your blood sugar numbers are important. But your blood glucose level is just one of many numbers you should know. Here are 10 figures to talk about with your doctor, whether you have prediabetes, type 1, or type 2 diabetes.

A1c: This common blood test can help diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It also shows your blood sugar level for the past few months. This can help determine if it’s under control. Your doctor may use the results to adjust your treatment plan.

The test gives the results as a percentage. Someone who doesn’t have diabetes has an A1c level below 5.7%. If your A1c level is above 6.5% two different times, your doctor may diagnose you with diabetes. A level above 8% means your blood sugar isn’t under control. You may be likely to have complications.

Blood glucose: A blood glucose meter can tell you your blood sugar at the time of the test. It uses a small drop of blood from your finger. How many times a day you test depends on the type of diabetes you have. Your doctor can tell you what type of meter is best for you.

Your target reading is between 80 and 130 before you eat. Two hours after you eat, it should be below 180. Keep a record of your readings and share it with your doctor.

Fasting blood glucose: Also called fasting plasma glucose (FPG), this test checks your blood sugar levels after you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for 8 hours. You usually take this test first thing in the morning.

A normal result is less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood). A result of 126 mg/dL or higher generally means you have diabetes.

Blood pressure: People who have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure. If you keep yours within a healthy range, it can help keep your condition under control. It may also help prevent heart disease.


Aim for a reading of less than 130/80. You can check it yourself at home or have it checked at a pharmacy or doctor’s office.

Cholesterol: People who have diabetes tend to have high cholesterol as well. There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (good) and LDL (bad). Diabetes can raise the bad type and lower the good. This can make you more likely to have heart disease and a stroke.

A blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile shows your cholesterol level. Work with your doctor to define your target. Normally, your goal is a total level of under 200 mg/dL.

Triglycerides: A lipid panel will also tell your triglyceride level. Triglycerides are a type of fat -- the most common type in your body. When your triglyceride and cholesterol levels are high, it can lead to a buildup of fats along your artery walls. This can raise your odds of having a heart attack and stroke.

Your ideal triglyceride level depends on your gender and age. Generally, your count should be less than 150 mg/dL.

Weight: Excess body fat can raise your chances of having diabetes, heart disease, and more. Staying at a healthy weight can help keep your condition in check. Your ideal weight depends on your age, sex, height, and frame. These two numbers can help tell if you’re at a healthy weight:

  • BMI: A body mass index (BMI) of 18.6 to 24.9 is ideal. To figure yours, take your weight in kilograms and divide by your height in meters squared. You can also find a BMI calculator online.
  • Waist circumference: A thicker waist often means excess body fat. Doctors suggest a waistline smaller than 35 inches for women and 40 for men.

Microalbumin levels: A urine microalbumin test can detect early signs of kidney damage. It looks for tiny amounts of a blood protein called albumin that damaged kidneys will leak into your pee. The test measures milligrams of protein leaked over 24 hours. Under 30 mg is normal. Between 30 and 300 mg may point to early kidney disease. Doctors recommend that people with diabetes have this test done once a year.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 24, 2019



Mayo Clinic: “Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?” “Microalbumin Test,” “A1C Test.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes.”

American Diabetes Association: “Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning About Prediabetes.” 

American Heart Association: “Know Your Health Numbers,” “Cholesterol Abnormalities and Diabetes.”

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