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How often should you get your blood sugar checked?

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Get your blood sugar checked annually if you have prediabetes—higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.

Your risk factors determine whether you should be screened annually or every three years.

Having high blood sugar puts you at risk for many conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. So it’s important to check your blood sugar levels to stay healthy. “It’s better to pick up increased levels earlier rather than later. When you intervene earlier, anything you do for treatment, such as weight loss or medication, will work better,” says David M. Nathan, a Harvard Medical School professor and the director of the Diabetes Center and Clinical Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Risks and testing

The guidelines for testing blood sugar are based on diabetes risk. One of those risk factors is being older than 45. Others include being overweight (with a body mass index of 25 or higher); a sedentary lifestyle; a family history of type 2 diabetes; a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol; or a heritage that is African American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American. “If you have any one of these risk factors, you should get the test done once. If it’s normal, get it done again in three years,” says Dr. Nathan.

But if you have prediabetes—a condition with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels—or if you’re a woman who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, then Dr. Nathan recommends testing your blood sugar levels every year.

What the numbers mean

The most common way to test blood sugar levels is a fasting blood sugar test. It requires a single blood sample that’s collected after you’ve fasted for at least eight hours.

Normal blood sugar is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) after an eight-hour fast. You have diabetes if your blood sugar is 126 mg/dL or higher after a fast. People with a blood sugar reading of above 100 but below 126 have prediabetes.

But having prediabetes doesn’t mean you’ll get diabetes. You can lower your blood sugar—and your risk of diabetes—by exercising, losing weight, and cutting back on refined grains and added sugars.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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