Tools to Help You Navigate Your Diabetes Journey

By Capital Blue Cross

This editorial is part of Transforming Health’s Expert Voices, where health care professionals discuss issues facing our community. All information is based on the expert’s experience and is not meant to replace professional medical advice or treatment plans. We encourage you to contact a qualified health care professional to discuss your individual health concerns.

Diabetes’ reach remains long, and its touch too often deadly.

That’s crucial to remember not only in November – which is American Diabetes Month – but year-round. So is the fact that there are ever-expanding approaches to proactively prevent and treat, and even reverse, the dangerous disease that still afflicts more than 10% of the United States population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reports that 34.2 million people have diabetes, and an additional 88 million are prediabetic. It’s no wonder it remains America’s seventh-leading killer according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Healthcare plans play an important role in managing or preventing diabetes. It’s important when you choose your plan – whether you’re seeking individual or family coverage, or you’re an employer or human resources professional seeking coverage for your staff – that you consider a plan that does more than merely cover traditional diabetes services. Those remain critical, but look for coverage that also offers modern, proactive approaches to diabetes management.

Because left untreated, Type 1 diabetes kills, and Type 2 and prediabetes increase the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.

We encourage those with diabetes to take one step at a time to stop or reverse their condition. It can be done!

In addition to seeking proactive, quality health coverage, it’s of course critical that people with diabetes take usual annual steps to monitor their condition:

Hemoglobin A1c blood test:

  • Measures average blood sugar over a two- to three-month period.
  • Those with diabetes should aim for a score of 8% or lower. A person without diabetes should register no higher than 5.7%.

Blood pressure:

  • Those with diabetes should maintain a blood pressure of 140/90 or less. Normal blood pressure is 120/80.

Kidney health:

  • Certain blood and urine tests can determine kidney function level and reveal early signs of kidney disease, a complication of diabetes.

Retinal eye exam, including eye dilation:

  • This allows doctors to detect and treat early stage eye damage, also a complication of diabetes.

Please remember that you’re not alone in your diabetes journey. There are community resources available to help you, including the diabetes section of the Pennsylvania Department of Health website, and a new section on Capital Blue Cross’ website devoted to diabetes and prediabetes. Go to capbluecross.com/diabetes for more information.