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December 2, 2009 > Is Your Diabetes Under Control?

Is Your Diabetes Under Control?

Washington Hospital Class Covers the ABCs of Avoiding Serious Complications

If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to keep your blood sugar under control. But it's also important to stay on top of your blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce your risk for serious complications.

"People with diabetes are at much higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and other health problems," said Vida Reed, RN, certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. "It's important to know your ABCs so you can manage your risk."

She will present an upcoming class titled, "ABCs of Diabetes," along with Anna Ng, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. The class is part of Washington Hospital's free Diabetes Matters education series and is scheduled for Thursday, December 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. It will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont.

Reed will provide an overview of the ABCs of diabetes while Ng will address how diet can help you keep them under control. The ABCs include AIC, blood pressure and cholesterol.

AIC is a test that measures your average blood sugar level for the two or
three-month period before the test. "AIC shows how well your treatment plan is working," Reed said. "You should have it checked twice a year. The goal for people with diabetes is 7 percent. Each point over 7 increases your risk for complications."

Ng will talk about managing your blood sugar levels by controlling your carbohydrate intake. "Of all the foods you eat, carbohydrates have the most effect on blood sugar," Ng said. "Eating about the same amount of carbohydrates each day can help you reach your AIC goal."

Carbohydrates include starches and sugars. They are found in many foods, including fruit, bread, potatoes, pasta, milk, and sweets.
Reducing Your Risk for Disease

Two out of three people with diabetes have high blood pressure, according to the American Diabetes Association. High blood pressure causes your heart to work harder and raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease.

"You should have your blood pressure checked every time you visit your doctor," Reed said. "People with diabetes should keep their blood pressure below 130 over 80. You may need medication to keep it under control. If you are overweight, losing even 10 pounds can help lower your blood pressure."

It's also important to lower your intake of salt, according to Ng. She will talk about foods to avoid that are high in salt and other ways to reduce the sodium in your diet.

"You need to eat less processed foods and more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables," Ng said.

Cholesterol also increases your risk for disease and should be checked regularly, according to Reed. Too much LDL or "bad" cholesterol causes the buildup of fatty acids or plaque in your arteries, which reduces blood flow.

"If you have high cholesterol, you need to get it treated," Reed said. "There is a genetic component involved, so not everyone can control their cholesterol with diet alone. You may need medication in addition to dietary changes."

Ng will discuss foods that increase LDL cholesterol, including saturated and trans fats. "Saturated fats are in cream, butter, cheese, fatty meats, and chicken skin," she said. "Trans fats are found in stick margarine and processed foods like crackers, cookies and pie crusts. Now that the FDA requires labels to include trans fats, they are easier to avoid. The American Heart Association recommends eating zero trans fats."

Controlling what you eat can help you manage your ABCs and prevent serious complications, Ng added.

For information about Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Program, please visit or call (510) 745-6556.

Learn how to control your diabetes by attending the Diabetes Matters class on December 3. To find out about other diabetes education classes or register for the lecture, call (510) 745-6556 or visit

Come to the Diabetes Support Group

Success in managing diabetes has a lot to do with receiving and giving social support. For people who suffer from diabetes, Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Program offers a support group that allows people to have in-depth conversations about what's happening in their lives and share information about dealing with diabetes in a positive and caring environment. The support group meetings are held at 8 p.m. every month immediately following the hour-long Diabetes Matters lecture which begins at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.

Family members and friends are also welcome. For more information about the support group or other classes and programs, call the Diabetes Services program at (510) 745-6556 or visit us on the web:

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