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Sidestep diabetes troubles

Doctors for USA WEEKEND

People with diabetes are taking a little better care of their health: New government research says more are checking their blood sugar every day — a key step for proper treatment.

But the same report reveals nearly half of adults with diabetes aren’t hitting goals for glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

That’s bad: Diabetics are two to four times more apt to have heart disease or a stroke. Plus, they have a higher risk of foot, vision, skin, nerve and kidney problems. 

For healthy blood sugar, work with a doctor to find your best diet plan, be more active and take meds as directed.

Here are four more ways to help prevent complications.

Stop smoking. Diabetics really, really should take steps to quit: Smoking single-handedly raises a diabetic’s risk for a variety of complications. It hurts your lungs, heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves; it raises bad cholesterol and blood pressure; and it increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.  

Examine your feet. Do it daily, and look for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling. High blood sugar can damage the nerves in your feet, which results in loss of sensation — if left untreated, foot injuries can become serious infections.

Set blood pressure and cholesterol goals. Ideal blood pressure is still less than 120/80 mmHg, but recently, the American Diabetes Association revised its treatment goals for the systolic, or top number: The new target blood pressure is less than 140/80 (before it was 130/80). Cholesterol targets remain the same for most people: for “bad” LDL cholesterol, less than 100 mg/dl; for “good” HDL, higher than 40 for men and 50 for women.

Get your eyes and teeth checked regularly. Diabetes raises your risk of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma; it also may make you more prone to gum disease. The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the more successful treatment can be.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

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