You might not have any symptoms that you have type 2 diabetes when you get it. In fact, researchers think that the average person already has it for 10 years when a doctor diagnoses it. This type of diabetes comes on slowly.
Do you know the risk factors? Do you know your numbers?
Type 2 diabetes is a treatable condition, but even when blood glucose levels are managed properly, there’s a heightened possibility of stroke or heart disease. “We say that patients with diabetes are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, but I think it’s important to understand how much more likely,” said Tas Saliaris, M.D.
The American Heart Association (AHA) considers diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). You can modify or control seven major independent risk factors for coronary heart disease: Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, overweight or obesity, diabetes, and healthy diet.
As 2017 draws to a close and a new year dawns, there are 10 tests you should have annually or more frequently if you have type 2 diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association, the National Diabetes Education Program and the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse recommend 10 tests every person with type 2 diabetes should have. They are:
1. A‐1‐C blood glucose (blood sugar) test (This lab test should be done every 3 to 6 months. It is different from blood testing you do yourself. The A‐1‐C tells what your blood glucose has been during the last few months.)
2. Blood pressure (at every office visit)
3. Blood test to measure “good” cholesterol, “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood (once a year)
4. “Dilated” eye exam to see if the blood vessels inside your eye are healthy (once a year)
5. Urine test to see if your kidneys are healthy (once a year)
6. Complete foot exam to see if the blood circulation, nerves, and skin in your feet are healthy (a complete exam once a year, a brief foot exam at every office visit)
7. Exam of your gums and teeth (every 6 months)
8. Weight (at every office visit)
9. Flu shot (at the beginning of flu season every Fall)
10. Pneumococcal vaccination (ask your doctor if you need it)
If you have type 2 diabetes and any of the above-mentioned tests are abnormal, you could be asked to make four changes, including eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco smoke, and losing weight if you’re overweight or obese.
The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have a professional test it. The AHA recognizes a normal blood pressure range that is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
“Starting with blood pressure, patients with diabetes, in addition to making sure their blood sugar is controlled, should regularly follow up with their physicians to make sure their blood pressure is optimally controlled,” said Dr. Saliaris. “Their cholesterol levels should be checked, and they should be controlled as well either with medication or diet and exercise.”
Knowing risk factors so you can make changes is important — diabetes contributes to more than 230,000 U.S. deaths per year. “At least two-thirds of patients age 65 and older who have a history of diabetes will die of some form of heart disease,” said Dr. Saliaris. “Patients with diabetes are about three to four times more likely to die from heart disease than patients who don’t have diabetes.”
A version of this story first appeared on HealthCentral.com.