Understanding Diabetes

Learning that you have an incurable, chronic disease like diabetes is understandably upsetting. On the positive side, diabetes is very treatable. What's more, as soon as you start telling people you have diabetes, you'll be surprised to discover how many people you know have it, too, and they are leading normal, productive lives. There's also a tremendous amount of new research on diabetes, and this means you'll continue to see new treatments in the years ahead.

The goals of treating diabetes are keeping your blood glucose under control and preventing the development of long-term complications. How you'll try to achieve these goals depends on your age, weight, current diet and exercise habits, work schedule, prior health problems, and whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

You'll need a personalized treatment plan that takes all of these factors into consideration, and you'll need the patience and determination to follow through with that plan every day. For most people with diabetes, this means carefully monitoring blood glucose levels, limiting certain foods, losing weight, exercising, and taking oral or injected medication.

Standards of Medical Care

The American Diabetes Association® reviews and revises its Standards of Medical Care each year to provide the most up-to-date information to health care providers about the diagnosis and treatment of all types of diabetes in adults and children. The guidelines are based on current scientific evidence and the goal is to reduce (and hopefully one day eliminate) diabetes complications.

Standards issued in December 2014 include the following recommendations:

  • Adults with diabetes who are over the age of 40 should take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.
    • Those who are between the ages of 40 and 75 and have no additional risk factors for heart disease should take a moderate-intensity statin.
    • Those who have cardiovascular disease and those between the ages of 40 and 75 who have additional heart disease risk factors should take a high-intensity statin.
  • Diastolic blood pressure goal for people with diabetes is 90 mm Hg.
  • People with diabetes should exercise regularly and break up periods of inactivity so that they are sedentary for no longer than 90 minutes at a time.
  • People with diabetes should perform resistance training at least twice per week, unless otherwise directed by their health care provider.
  • Asian Americans with a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or higher should be screened for diabetes.
  • Addition of a new section for the management of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
  • Children and adolescents who have diabetes should have an A1C target of less than 7.5 percent.
  • E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are not supported by the Association as an alternative to smoking or as a smoking cessation method.
  • Per the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes who are over the age of 65 and have not received a pneumonia vaccine should receive 2 separate immunizations—12 months apart.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Written by: Christopher D. Saudek, M.D.; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 21 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 31 Mar 2015