Your Diabetes To-Do List

Your Diabetes To-Do List

Complications due to diabetes can be devastating to you and your family. For this reason, completing these all-important tests will give you the best chance for successfully managing your diabetes.

What test?
How often?
What is it?
Why is it important?
What is the desired effect/outcome?

A1c or HbA1c

Every 3 to 6 months

This non-fasting blood test measures your average blood sugar in the previous three months to see if it has stayed within a target range.

It will tell you and your doctor how well your blood glucose is under control for that specific period of time.

The ADA recommends an HbA1c at 7% or less. However, this can vary depending on a person’s overall health status; therefore, levels between 7 and 8% may be considered acceptable.

Blood Pressure

Once a year or more (at each doctor’s visit)

Blood pressure is the force of blood flow inside your blood vessels. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and recorded as two numbers: systolic pressure “over” diastolic pressure.

Keeping your blood pressure at lower levels helps decrease your risk for other health issues such as a stroke, heart attack, and kidney or eye problems.

For those living with diabetes, the general goal is to keep your blood pressure less than 140/90, while some studies suggest less than 130/80. Discuss with your doctor the blood pressure level you need to maintain for your personal health needs.

 Learn more about blood pressure here


Once a year or more (as recommended by your doctor)

This test shows the amount of HDL (“good”) and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that’s present.

People with diabetes have a much higher risk for heart disease. Keeping your LDL within the desired level lowers your risk for heart disease.

This will vary for each person so talk to your doctor about the level that is right for you.

Dilated Eye Exam

Once a year

This test requires an ophthalmologist or optometrist to check the tiny blood vessels in the retina for any damage caused by high levels of blood glucose.

Detects diabetic retinopathy caused by uncontrolled blood glucose levels that can lead to loss of vision. When detected early and treated, loss of vision can be avoided or at least minimized.

Your doctor is looking for the absence of retinopathy. Signs of eye disease include leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling (macular edema), pale, fatty deposits on the retina, damaged nerve tissue or any changes to the blood vessels.

 Learn more about retinopathy here

Protein in Urine

Once a year or more (as recommended by your doctor)

A urine test that checks how well your kidneys are functioning.

People with poorly controlled diabetes can have albumin in the urine and are at risk for kidney damage, particularly if they have other underlying issues such as high blood pressure.

For a random urine sample, normal values are approximately 0 to 8 mg/dL. For a 24-hour urine collection, the normal value is less than 80 mg per 24 hour.