IMPORTANCE OF BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS FOR PEOPLE WITH PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Posted Dec 18 2009 10:46pm
Tis the season to be jolly….and along with that usually comes sweets, cookies, desserts and high carbohydrate foods. Recently I learned something very important – something I didn’t know that has a long term effect on my ability to keep my balance, continue to walk without aids, and to be independent.
You see, for several years I’ve been told that my “Hemoglobin HbA1c” test was a little high. When I asked what that meant the answer was always – “Your blood sugar is a little high – you need to watch it.” Well, I’ve been watching it rise gradually over the course of the last few years.
Last week I visited with my Neurologist – a very intelligent and thoughtful lady who answers my questions fully. When she saw my results she took the time to explain this test thoroughly to me. Here’s the information no one else has bothered to tell me over the last 5 years.
The Hemoglobin HbA1c test is a test that is a measure of long term diabetic control. The results of this test are an average. This means that the number that is reported is the middle number or average – and the conclusion is that there are HIGH points, higher numbers that are not being reported but are certainly there in order to reach an average.
Over time the glucose and fats in our blood coat our red blood cells or hemoglobin. Sometimes the analogy of icing the red blood cell or attachments to the red blood cell illustrate the relationship of the glucose and fat to our red blood cell. So each day when our red blood cells are destroyed and then are made anew the glucose and fat reattach to our blood cells. This measurement or percentage tells the long term story of how we are keeping our glucose under control.
Now, the normal level for a non-diabetic is between 4.0 and 6.0. When the average is above 6.0 that should send alarm signals to me because that means that the highest number in that range could be 8.0 or higher. This is important for every person with Parkinson’s Disease to know because I am told that nerve damage in our feet takes place silently when we hit the 8.0 mark. We don’t know that the nerves are being destroyed but they are.
Now, balance issues are a main concern for every person with Parkinson’s Disease. Right now, I’m managing my balance alright. I have my good days and my bad days depending on the amount of rest I get. BUT, if I continue to allow the nerve endings in my feet to be destroyed because I ignore the long term effects of high glucose in my blood stream, then I’m asking for trouble.
Therefore, I encourage everyone of you to pay careful attention to your blood test results – especially the numbers in your Hemoglobin HbA1c test. For those numbers are indicative of whether or not we are keeping our glucose and fats under control.
No one wants to be diagnosed as diabetic. No one wants to have balance issues and try to solve them by becoming dependent on canes or wheelchairs. Take heed to pay attention to your medical tests now. I’m so grateful that my Neurologist took the time to explain all of this to me. Usually I receive the mild scolding to lay off the sugar and starches from my general doctor. But this time, with the information I’ve received from my Neurologist I know there is time for me to change my habits now.
So, as I celebrate during this season to be jolly – I’m grateful for information that now motivates me to monitor my diet better and exercise more. Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and let’s keep our balance!