Diabetes Control with Medication and Blood Glucose Monitoring to Prevent Complications

Diabetes Control with Medication and Blood Glucose Monitoring to Prevent Complications

Julianna Lombardo

Pharmacy Intern

Diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body uses sugar. Normally, when sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin is released and helps aid sugar into the cells for use. In patients with diabetes, the body either does not respond to insulin or the body doesn’t make enough insulin to properly move sugar from the bloodstream into the cells.

Keeping blood sugar levels under control can take a lot of time and practice. Luckily there are many different types of medications, both oral and injectable, and many ways to test blood sugar to stay healthy while living with this condition. Maintaining a pre-prandial (before meal) blood glucose level of 80-130 mg/dL and a glucose reading 1-2 hours after a meal of less than 180mg/dL is critical in managing blood sugar levels.1 If blood sugar levels aren’t being controlled via medications and blood glucose readings, one or more of the following complications can occur. They can be remembered by the ABC DEF’s of Diabetes control.

A is for A1C:

A1C readings are measured via a simple blood test and gives the doctor a look at an average of the patient’s blood sugar values over the past 2 to 3 months.2 Everyone’s A1C goal is individualized and should be discussed with a healthcare professional. On average, a patient with diabetes will have an A1C goal of less than 7%.2 The higher the percentage, the higher a patient’s blood sugar levels are over the past 2-3 months.2 Monitoring A1C levels regularly can allow medication regimens to be made in order to optimally control blood sugar.

B is for Blood Pressure:

2 out of 3 patients with diabetes report having high blood pressure or taking a medication that lowers their blood pressure.3 It is important to attend follow up appointments regularly to monitor blood pressure. Usually patients don’t experience symptoms when they have high blood pressure which can be very dangerous.3 Purchasing a blood pressure cuff to manage blood pressure readings at home in between doctors visits can also be helpful. Medications are just one way a patient can lower their blood pressure. Eating whole grain foods, adding herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food and limiting alcohol consummation are all small tasks to decrease blood pressure.3

C is for Cholesterol:

Managing cholesterol levels goes hand in hand with managing blood pressure readings. Patients with diabetes are 1.5x more likely to have a stroke than a patient without diabetes.4 This makes it very important to get blood work done regularly to ensure cholesterol levels are in normal range. Cholesterol medications also work very well in lowering cholesterol levels if  too high. Managing a patient’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels lowers their  risk of having a stroke.

D is for Diabetes Mellitus Kidney Disease

The kidneys are used to filter out waste products from the body. When blood sugar levels are high, the kidneys filter too much blood and can lead to overworked kidneys that begin to malfunction.5  The filters in the kidneys begin to leak resulting in useful proteins lost in urine instead to staying in the body.5 This can be prevented by managing blood glucose and early diagnosis of kidney disease. If caught early, medications can be taken to prevent the progression of kidney disease. If caught late into the progression, patients may need a kidney transplant or blood filtration by dialysis machine. A patient’s risk of kidney disease is decreased by one third if blood glucose is consistently within range.5

E is for Eye Care

Patients with diabetes are at increased risk in developing conditions affecting the eyes. When glucose stays in the blood for too long, it can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eye leading to glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy which can all lead to blindness.6 Getting regular eye exams is an important in order to diagnose problems in the eye early for treatment and better results.

F is for Foot Care

Patients with diabetes often experience nerve damage in their feet. This can lead to poor blood circulation and loss of feeling in a patient’s feet. It is common for patients to not notice foot injuries since the neuropathy lessens their ability to feel pain, heat or cold.7 A patient can easily develp an infection in their foot from a minor cut and not even notice it. It is very important to go to a podiatrist often to decrease the chance of infection leading to a possible amputation.

Diabetes may be a lifelong disease, but luckily medications have come a long way to make this condition manageable to prevent the escalation of problems associated with diabetes. Managing blood glucose with testing regularly and taking medications as prescribed can help keep blood sugar under control and decrease the likelihood of advancing these conditions to impact a patient’s quality of life. If you have any questions, reach out to your healthcare provider or local Price Chopper/Market 32 Pharmacist.

Sources:

  1. “The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Glucose.” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 8 August 2020.  www.diabetes.org/diabetes/medication-management/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/checking-your-blood-glucose.
  2. “Understanding A1C.” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 8 August 2020. www.diabetes.org/a1c.
  3. “High Blood Pressure.” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 9 August 2020. www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prevention/high-blood-pressure.
  4. “Stroke.” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 7 August 2020. www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/stroke.
  5. “Kidney Disease (Nephropathy).” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 7 August 2020.  www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/kidney-disease-nephropathy.
  6. “Eye Complications.” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 8 August 2020. www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/eye-complications.
  7. “Foot Complications.” American Diabetes Association. Accessed 8 August 2020. www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/foot-complications.
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