“I will take better care of my diabetes.” Diabetes is a scary diagnosis because it is about more than just blood sugars. It is a disease that affects your blood vessels, and it can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Other than heart disease, diabetes is a disease that affects the eyes, kidneys, nerves and other small blood vessels. The “complications” of diabetes are really complications of uncontrolled blood sugars.
Once a person has diabetes, he or she has to watch lipids (cholesterol numbers) and blood pressure, as well as blood sugars. Medications, lifestyle and diet all affect diabetes, and managing these are the core of diabetes care. One of the tests that help us see how well diabetes is controlled is the A1C test. It is also called hemoglobin A1c ( HbA1c), or glycated hemoglobin test. The HbA1c test shows the average blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. It measures how much of the hemoglobin (red blood cells) is glycated (coated in sugar).
“Statistically, we know people who attend diabetes self-management training (DSMT) and go to yearly DSMT follow-up education manage their diabetes better,” reports Rhonda Perdelwitz, RN, BSN and Certified Diabetes Educator at Fort Atkinson Hospital. “The American Diabetes Association suggests having an A1c of 7% or less is optimal blood sugar control and you can improve, reduce or eliminate complications of diabetes.”
If your A1c test has not been done for 4 to 6 months, ask your doctor to have this test done. This blood test does not have to be done fasting. If the results are 7.0 or higher, ask your doctor to refer you for diabetes education to the nurse and dietitian.
Diabetes education is covered by some insurance plans. Because each insurance plan is different it is recommended that you call your insurance company and inquire on if diabetes self-management training is a paid benefit. If you have Medicare, diabetes education is a preventative program Medicare covers. Medicare pays for 10 hours of diabetes class education the first year of a new diabetes diagnosis and for 2 hours every year after initial diagnosis. To meet the Medicare requirements for DSMT education the patient must have a referral from the doctor. Go to www.medicare.gov to see what kind of coverage the plan you are on has.
So when you think “I am going to take better care of my Diabetes” it may simply mean asking your doctor for a referral to diabetes education.