Seunga (Jasmine Han), PharmD Student
Also known simply as “diabetes”, diabetes mellitus is a chronic medical condition caused either by an absence or lack of insulin, resistance to insulin’s action, or both. As a result, individuals with diabetes often have higher blood glucose levels in their body than those without diabetes.
Diabetes can be managed with lifestyle modifications and medication, but there are some long-term complications associated with having diabetes. These complications can impact the overall health of the heart, blood vessels and nerves, which is why you may have heard that some individuals with diabetes may experience heart attacks, strokes, nerve pain, or vision loss.
This is why it’s important for individuals with diabetes to take good care of their overall health, and we’ll cover 5 tips to help prevent these complications!
Tip #1: Keep your blood sugar in the “normal” range
High blood sugar levels are one of the leading causes of diabetes complications such as:
- Microvascular disease, which can affect the small blood vessels of the body like the eyes and kidneys
- Nerve damage, which often affects the feet first
- Microvascular disease, where there is an increased risk of heart disease and stroke
So, following your medication therapy plan, keeping up with your diet and exercise and going for your blood work to ensure your blood sugar is meeting your target is important.
Tip #2: Keep your blood pressure under 130/80 mmHg
Along with your blood glucose, you should also monitor your blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure under 130/80 mmHg is recommended for individuals with diabetes, according to Diabetes Canada. It’s crucial for reducing the risk of kidney damage. Losing weight and following a low salt diet are some of the ways you can ensure you meet your target blood pressure.
Tip #3: Lower your bad cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that we don’t want to accumulate in the body. Higher LDL cholesterol levels are associated with a greater risk for microvascular complications, namely heart attacks and strokes. It’s important that you go for yearly blood work to ensure that all your cholesterol levels including the “good” (HDL) and the “bad” (LDL) are all in the target ranges.
Tip #4: Take good care of your feet
It’s common for individuals with diabetes to have impaired pain sensation and ability to heal wounds due to reduced blood flow, especially in the feet.
Meaning, one may not necessarily feel the pebble in their shoes and may not be aware of the fact that their foot is injured. Due to their impaired ability to heal that wound, it may take weeks before it heals.
Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly examine the feet and toes everyday for any possible injury.
Tip #5: Schedule a regular check up
Lastly, schedule regular visits to your healthcare professional to ensure that your diabetes is being well-controlled and to check for any signs of complications. These include your family physician, optometrist, and podiatrist as well as any other healthcare professional involved in your care.
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