Duke Medicine HealthLine
Published: May 15, 2008
Updated: Apr. 30, 2010
Controlling your blood sugar is essential
It can be tough to stay motivated about controlling your blood sugar when there is no noticeable change in how you feel on a day-to-day basis. And all this talk about A1Cs of sixes and sevens can leave a person with diabetes at odds: Does it really matter whether your blood glucose creeps up a little?
In a word, absolutely. Mark Feinglos, MD, explains that with each A1C percentage point, the stress on your pancreas grows by an order of magnitude. “High blood sugar is a stimulus to make insulin,” he says.
“If you’re making insulin but you’ve got high blood sugar -- even if your sugar is just a little bit high -- then your pancreas is being told to put out insulin all the time. If you’re putting insulin out all the time, that stress on your pancreas will cause you will lose function over time.”
And though diabetes complications may come on slowly, their consequences are profound: Blindness, nerve damage, ulcers that can lead to amputation, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke. “If people don’t keep their blood sugar tightly controlled when they are first diagnosed, they’re going to do worse down the road,” says Feinglos. “For most people with diabetes, an A1C of seven should be your bare-minimum goal.”