Diabetes Home > Managing Diabetes

Get the A1c Test
The hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test is usually done by your doctor. It measures how well your blood glucose has been controlled over the last three months. This test is important, because it tells how well you are taking care of your diabetes over the long term. It should be done at least twice a year. The target hemoglobin A1c for most people with diabetes is less than 7.
 
To learn more about your A1c test results:
 
  • Ask your healthcare team what your A1c is, and keep a dated record of the results
  • Discuss your A1c target with your healthcare team and write it down
  • Discuss what you need to do to reach your target.
     
Check Your Blood Glucose
You may need to check your blood glucose on a regular basis to help manage your diabetes. It will tell you what your blood glucose is at the time you test. Keep a record of your results and show it to your healthcare team. Some meters and test strips report blood glucose results as plasma glucose values, which are 10 to 15 percent higher than whole blood glucose values. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your meter and strips provide whole blood or plasma results.
 
The target glucose range for most people using whole blood is 80 to 120 before meals and 100 to 140 at bedtime. The target glucose range for most people using plasma is 90 to 130 before meals and 110 to 150 at bedtime.
 
Things you can do to help check your blood glucose include:
 
  • Talking to your healthcare team about the best ways to check your own blood glucose.
     
  • Asking your healthcare team what your blood glucose targets are before meals, after meals, and at bedtime, and writing them down.
     
  • Asking what to do if your blood glucose is often higher or lower than it should be.
     
  • Asking how to get the supplies you need to do the tests. Most insurance companies, including Medicare, now pay for diabetes testing supplies.
     
Know Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) makes your heart work too hard. This leads to strokes and other problems, such as kidney disease. Your blood pressure should be checked at every visit. You may need to check it yourself. The target blood pressure for most people with diabetes is less than 130/80.
 
When you meet with your healthcare team:
 
  • Ask what your blood pressure is, and keep a dated record of the results.
  • Discuss your blood pressure target and write it down.
  • Discuss what you need to do to reach your target.
  • Ask if you need to test your blood pressure yourself. If so, find out how, when, and what supplies you need.
     
Know Your Cholesterol
Both diabetes and high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) are risk factors for heart disease. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol that builds up in your blood vessels. It causes the vessels to narrow and harden, which can lead to a heart attack. Your doctor should check your LDL at least once a year.
 
The target LDL cholesterol for most people with diabetes is less than 100.
 
To learn more about your cholesterol:
 
  • Discuss your LDL cholesterol target with your healthcare team, and keep a record of the results
  • Discuss what you need to do to reach your target.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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