By: Radha McLean
Managing your blood-glucose levels is not the only treatment needed to avoid diabetes-related complications, according to several health advocacy groups. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol is also important in preventing heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death for people with diabetes, say the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
These groups are working together to launch a new consumer awareness campaign called “Be Smart About Your Heart: Control the ABCs of Diabetes.” The A in “ABC” stands for A1c; the B stands for blood pressure; and the C stands for cholesterol. The program is promoting comprehensive treatment of diabetes in response to recent studies showing a significant link between diabetes and heart disease, the news release explains.
The HHS cites statistics showing that the incidence of diabetes in the United States increased 49 percent between 1990 and 2000 and is expected to increase 125 percent by the year 2050.
“If you have diabetes, you are at very high risk for heart attack and stroke,” says Tommy G. Thompson, HHS secretary. “But you can take control and lower your risk with this new treatment approach.”
“People with diabetes know how important it is to control their blood glucose, but too little attention is paid to the role of cholesterol and blood pressure,” states Allan M. Spiegel, MD, NDEP spokesperson and director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Research shows that this new approach—aggressively treating these three risk factors—can save lives.”
According to the new guidelines for good control, A1c level should be below 7% and checked at least twice a year; blood pressure should be below 130/80 and checked during every visit to your doctor; and LDL cholesterol should be below 100 and checked at least once a year.
A brochure and a wallet card to help you track your ABC numbers are available free of charge. To order, contact the NDEP by phone at (800) 438-5383 or on the Web at ndep.nih.gov, or contact the ADA by phone at (800) 342-2383 or at www.diabetes.org on the Web.