March 2015

3 Ways to Better Control Your Diabetes

 

If you have diabetes, you know how hard it can sometimes be to manage the condition. That’s why experts keep looking for better ways to control the disease. Every year, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) reviews the latest research on diabetes. It then updates its care guidelines for you and your doctor. Below are 3 key changes.

Limit time spent sitting

Don’t take this news sitting down: Too much sedentary time isn’t good for your health. In fact, people who sit a lot are more likely to die early. They are also more prone to health problems like heart disease. This serious condition already affects many people with diabetes.

To help counter this trend, the ADA advises that you not sit for more than 90 minutes at a time. Break up such long stretches with bursts of activity. For instance, if you are desk-bound during the day, take occasional breaks to stand up and walk around. Watching a lot of TV? Move about during commercials.

Along with being more active in general, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Sprinkle in some resistance exercises, too. For example, lift weights 2 to 3 times a week. But talk with your doctor first before starting any new physical activity.

Know your blood pressure

Two-thirds of people with diabetes have high blood pressure. They may take medicine to control it. This common condition causes your blood to flow too strongly through your blood vessels. Your heart then needs to work overtime. That can lead to other health problems, such as a stroke.

It’s important to know your blood pressure numbers. You should aim for a blood pressure reading of less than 140/90 mmHg. In this year’s guidelines, the ADA raised the second number—the diastolic reading—from 80 to 90 mmHg after looking at the latest research. But your doctor may want you to shoot for a lower level based on your personal situation.  

Take a statin

Statins are powerful little pills. They can lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They work by stopping the way your body makes cholesterol. Watching what you eat and exercising can also help limit the amount of this substance in your blood.

People with diabetes are more at risk for high cholesterol—a key player in heart disease. For this reason, the ADA now suggests that people with the disease take a statin. The dose depends on your personal health. People at high risk for heart disease and those older than age 40 may need to take a higher amount.

Talk with your health care provider to see if a statin may be right for you. Keep in mind that the medicine can have side effects. These are muscle pain or weakness, upset stomach, and constipation. It may also harm your liver or kidneys. Overall, though, the drug’s ability to prevent a heart attack may outweigh these possible problems.

 

Delve deeper into how to manage your diabetes.

 

Online resources

American Diabetes Association

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases