In order to best prevent diabetes, it is important to know your numbers. You might say, “Isn’t diabetes just about blood glucose levels?” Well, the answer to that is no. Those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides, as well as those who are overweight or obese, are at greater risk of developing diabetes than those without such risk factors. It is important to get your regular check up at the physician, at least every year, in order to know your numbers so you can prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, before they develop.
Fasting blood glucose: The most common number associated with diabetes is the blood glucose level, which can be measured with a fasting blood glucose test. This test is done by checking the blood glucose level after not eating for 8 to 10 hours. A normal reading should be between 70 to 99 milligrams/liter, someone at risk for diabetes will have a reading between 100 and 125 milligrams/liter, while someone diagnosed with diabetes will have a reading of 126 milligrams/liter or multiple occasions.
Blood Pressure: Your blood pressure number consists of two parts: the top number is the systolic pressure, which is the pressure produced in your blood vessels when your heart contracts, while the bottom number is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure produced in between heart beats as your vessels dilate.
A normal blood pressure reading is 120 milliliters Hg (Mercury)/80 milliliters Hg or lower.
Someone is at risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure when they have a reading of around 130mmHg/90mmHg.
Someone who has hypertension has a blood pressure reading of 140mmHg/90mmHg or higher. At this stage, individuals should see their healthcare provider for help in treating their hypertension. Sometimes medical professionals may recommend changes in diet or increases in exercise first so that individuals may attempt to use healthy lifestyle interventions to lower blood pressure before being prescribed medication.
Whether you have hypertension or not, it is important to create a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet that is low in sodium, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and very importantly, to keep stress levels as low as possible so that hypertension can be treated or prevented.
Cholesterol readings consist of several numbers:
-LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol: This number should be less than 100.
-HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol that helps to transport fat to the cells to be used for energy instead of being stored in vessels and increasing risk of heart disease. HDL cholesterol should be above 50.
-Total cholesterol takes into account all types of cholesterol and should be lower than 200.
Triglycerides are the number that shows how much fat is circulating in the blood. Triglycerides should be around 150 milligrams per deciliter or less. The higher the triglyceride level, the greater the risk of developing atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well as inflammation of the pancreas. Those with high triglyceride levels likely have diabetes, hypothyroidism, or obesity, and controlling of such conditions through medication, diet, and other healthy lifestyle changes can help to lower triglyceride levels.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index, or BMI, is an estimate of the fat composition of the body. Although the BMI can be skewed in athletes, or in muscular individuals, it is relatively effective at identifying those who are overweight or obese, or at risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Body mass index is calculated by taking the weight in pounds divided by the height in inches squared, with this number multiplied by 703. For example, for someone who is 5’2” and 110 lbs., their BMI would be:
A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, those who are overweight have a BMI between
25 and 29.9, and those who are obese have a BMI above 30.
A simple check up could identify these numbers and help you treat health problems before they develop into chronic conditions, or if such numbers identify a chronic condition, knowing your numbers can help you prevent health complications related to your diagnosed condition.