Thursday, July 21, 2016

The 411 on A1C: Diabetes Education Classes Can Help

When you eat, whether the food is sweet or not, your body breaks some of the nutrients down into a sugar known as glucose. Cells need glucose for energy, but if you already have enough, the remaining glucose is left floating in the blood. The level of sugar that builds up in the bloodstream can be measured with an A1C test, also known as a glycated hemoglobin test. Levels between 5.7% and 6.4% signify pre-diabetes and an increased risk of diabetes. Levels above 6.5% indicate diabetes.

If you have diabetes, managing your A1C level is vital to ensuring you don't develop complications such as eye, nerve, foot or kidney damage. Home blood sugar testing is an important and useful tool, but it only provides a snapshot of your blood sugar levels in the moment. An A1C test provides an average from the past three months, which can provide a more accurate sense of how well you're managing your type 2 diabetes. Patients with diabetes should get an A1C test every three to six months.

There are ways to improve your blood sugar management and contribute to lowering your A1C score:
  • Register for free diabetes education classes. GBMC offers a series of two 90-minute classes in its primary care offices: Diabetes Basics and Taking Charge of Your Diabetes. Both include education, support and resources. Learn how to manage your meals, understand target blood glucose numbers and become comfortable self-monitoring. To sign up, call your PCP's office and request to speak with the RN Care Manager.
  • Get moving. Find a workout you enjoy that will encourage you to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
  • Stick to a schedule. When you overeat or skip meals, your blood sugar levels are rising and falling too much. Have regular well-balanced meals.
  • Balance your diet. You may be surprised what one serving size of fruit looks like. A diabetes educator can help you plan a proper diet that works for you.
For qualifying patients, GBMC also offers one-on-one sessions with a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator at these practices: Hunt Valley, Family Care Associates, Hunt Manor, Owings Mills, Joppa Road and Internal Medicine Residents. If you are interested in diabetes education, call the Nurse Care Manager at your primary care practice. Feel free to forward this e-mail to a friend or family member who might need help managing their A1C level, too. In need of a primary care provider? Find one near you.

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