National Diabetes Awareness Month


November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. It serves as an opportunity to educate and inform individuals of the importance of understanding their risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes. Individuals with Diabetes have a 2-fold greater risk of heart disease. Possible explanations for this increased risk is that elevated blood sugar, over time, can cause damage to the arteries, nerves, and blood vessels. Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes may also have additional risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and overweight which can further increase heart disease risk. Knowing and understanding your numbers and risk factors can help on your health and wellness journey.

Knowing your Numbers

It’s important to find out certain numbers when it comes to your health. These include your blood glucose (blood sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. These numbers are sometimes referred to as checking your ABC’s (A1c, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol).

Glucose: This number is usually part of your Comprehensive Metabolic Panel and indicates your fasting plasma glucose. Glucose is also known as blood sugar.

< 100 = within normal lab limits

100-125 = elevated glucose; may indicate pre-diabetes

>126 = elevated glucose; may indicate diabetes

Hemoglobin A1c: This test is usually not on a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel. However, it can be helpful in assessing your blood sugar levels. This number represents a three-month snapshot of your average blood sugar levels. If you have a family history of pre-diabetes or diabetes and/or have had previously elevated glucose levels, talk to your doctor about adding this test to your next blood work.

<5.6% = within normal lab limits

5.7 – 6.4% = elevated; pre-diabetes

>6.5% = diabetes

Remember: Obtain a copy of your blood work and make sure to review it with your healthcare provider. Ask questions and learn about what your numbers mean and how they impact your individual health care.

Review your Risk Factors

There are two categories that we can consider when discovering more about our risk for pre-diabetes and diabetes. These include non-modifiable risk factors (factors that you can’t change) and modifiable risk factors (factors that you can change).

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

Modifiable Risk Factors

Genetics/Family History

  • “The lifetime risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes is ~40% if one parent has Type 2 Diabetes and higher if the mother has the disease.
  • The risk for Type 1 Diabetes is ~5% if a parent has Type 1 Diabetes and higher if the father has the disease.


  • American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, and Pacific Islanders are at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Stress
  • Smoking


  • > 65 years old


The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes is higher in males than in females.

Focus on what you can change

The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association joined their efforts for “Know Diabetes by Heart.” This relatively new campaign helps provide resources and tools to individuals living with Diabetes understand and manage their risks for heart disease. You can access informative and inspirational talks as well as heart-healthy recipes. Visit for more information.

Here are the highlights from their 7 Tips to Care for your Heart when you have Type 2 Diabetes.

  • Check in with your doctor regularly.
  • Continue healthy eating habits.
  • Keep moving.
  • Lowering your stress level and practicing self-care.
  • Quit Smoking.
  • Monitor your blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.
  • Take medication(s) as prescribed.

By knowing your numbers, reviewing your risk factors, and making small changes every day, you can help reduce your risk for pre-diabetes and make strides in managing your diabetes.


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