Changing your lifestyle can lower your risk of diabetes-related diseases

There are a variety of complications and side effects associated with diabetes, learn more about steps you can take to increase your odds of surviving or avoiding them.

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary. Thoughts of side effects like higher risk of heart disease or vision problems keep many people from seeing a healthcare provider or following through on treatment plans. But research shows that with good control of your blood sugar, side effects can be reduced.

A medical study recently conducted in Sweden shows that people who controlled their A1C levels – the average of one’s blood glucose levels over a two to three month period – were less likely to die of heart disease than those who didn’t. Diabetic patients who controlled their A1C over a five year period were 50 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular or coronary heart disease than patients who’s A1C did not improve. Participants who kept their diabetes under control were 33 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease and 41 percent less likely to die from any cause than diabetics who poorly controlled their disease.

What does this mean for you? Controlling your diabetes could increase your life expectancy and lower your risk of developing complications. Here are some steps to help you achieve better control:

  • Keep regular appointments with your healthcare provider. If you haven’t seen your provider in the last year, call and make an appointment today.
  • Know your numbers. What is your A1C, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol?
  • Make taking your blood sugar part of your daily routine.
  • Watch what you eat. Plan healthy meals based on the carbohydrate count or exchange system your health care provider recommends.
  • If you haven’t seen a dietician for a healthy diabetic meal plan, ask your healthcare provider to make a referral to one.
  • Sign up for diabetes education classes at your local hospital.
  • Contact your county extension office for availability of diabetes education programs like Dining with Diabetes or Diabetes PATH.
  • Get regular daily exercise. You don’t have to go to a gym. Even walking will help lower or stabilize blood sugars.

With some planning and smart goals like eating healthier and getting more exercise you can manage your diabetes and lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other diabetes related health risks. For more information about diabetes contact the American Diabetes Association or a Michigan State University Extension educator near you.

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