Heart Health Factors

  • Get Active
  • Control Cholesterol
  • Eat Better
  • Manage Blood Pressure
  • Lose Weight
  • Reduce Blood Sugar
  • Stop Smoking

Reduce Blood Sugar

Why Reduce Blood Sugar?

If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells.
 
When your body stops making insulin or the insulin stops doing its job, your energy supply and blood sugars are no longer stable and serious health problems like diabetes can result. People with this condition often feel overly tired because the cells are not being regularly fueled with energy. Diabetes can cause your blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels, and when this happens, your body may try to compensate by draining fluid out of your cells to dilute the excessive sugar, creating excessive thirst and hydration problems. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.

Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

Why is Reducing Blood Sugar Important for My Health?

Lowered blood sugar helps protect your vital organs. When you reduce excessive sugars, you are giving yourself the best chance for a healthy life. The American Heart Association considers diabetes one of the six major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. When insulin resistance or diabetes occur along with other CVD risk factors (such as obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides), the risk of heart disease and stroke rises even more.

What Can I Do to Reduce Blood Sugar?

When diabetes or pre-diabetes is detected, a doctor may prescribe changes in eating habits, weight control, exercise programs and medication to keep it in check. It's critical for people with diabetes to have regular check-ups. Work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your diabetes and control any other risk factors. In general, you should:

  • Reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in  soda, candy and sugary desserts.
  • Get regular physical activity! Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity directly helps your body respond to insulin.
  • Take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you.

The good news is that by reducing your blood sugar, you can slow the progression of long-term complications. Often, many small changes add up to surprising improvements in diabetes control, including less need for medication.

Control Blood Sugar Success Story:

Harry Moore, AHA patient spokesperson for The Heart of Diabetes.

In the summer of 1994, I was driving a truck down a familiar road and suddenly my vision went blurry. After the eye doctor ran tests, he referred me to my family doctor because he suspected I might have type 2 diabetes.

He was right. I did indeed have type 2 diabetes along with high blood pressure and marginally high cholesterol. I took medication for a year, which helped me maintain normal blood sugar and blood pressure. But the more I learned about the long-term complications of my disease, the more I wanted to improve my life. I started to make small but important changes, like only ordering one cheeseburger instead of three. I also started walking for ten minutes a day. Each week I increased my walking by one minute. A year later I was walking 60 minutes a day, seven days a week and I had lost 35 pounds.

But I didn’t stop there! I had more weight to lose so I joined a weight-loss support group. Four years after my diagnosis, I reached my final weight-loss goal of 139 pounds. By changing my life, my type 2 diabetes and other conditions improved to the point that my family doctor was able to take me off all medications. Today I celebrate by sharing my story with others.