Reducing complications

Measurement of glucose levels and reducing the risk of complications


  • The key to reducing complications is managing blood glucose levels

HbA1c: an important measure of how effectively diabetes is being managed using a measure of the amount of glucose that has attached itself to each red blood cell over the preceding 2-3 months to assess the level of diabetes control.

The DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial) study confirmed that lowering HbA1c by just 1% can decrease the risk of developing microvascular complications by up to 40%.* HbA1c should be monitored every 3 months with the goal of keeping it below 7% (53mmol/L) or at the target set by your physician.*

Normal glucose values vary between 4.0 and 7.8 mmol/L, and you may want to consider trying to achieve these targets in daily life with self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) levels using a personal glucose meter.*

Hypoglycaemia (“hypos”) refers to when blood glucose levels fall below 3.5 mmol/L, although the exact figure can vary between individuals. In the case of mild hypoglycaemia, symptoms are felt, and action can be taken to prevent it becoming worse by eating or drinking something containing carbohydrates. Severe hypoglycaemia requires assistance from another person and may need hospital treatment.

Hyperglycaemia (“hypers”) refers to when the blood glucose levels are above 11.1 mmol/L, but can vary depending on the individual. Glucose levels above 15% mmol/L need to be treated quickly to help avoid acute complications.

It can be a challenge to reach and maintain the HbA1c goal whilst minimising the risk of hypoglycaemia. Insulin pump therapy enables adjustment of the insulin requirements to the body’s hourly needs.

Careful control of blood glucose levels can significantly decrease the risk of developing complications. A drop of 1% in HbA1c can result in a risk reduction of:*

  • Retinopathy (eye damage) by 38%
  • Nephropathy (kidney damage) by 28%
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) by 28%
  • Cardiovascular (heart attack or stroke) event by 57%

So, for someone with Type 1 diabetes who has concerns about complications, what can be done now to help reduce the risks?


  • * References are kept on file and are available on request; please contact your local Medtronic representative for copies.


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