If you’re living with Type 2 diabetes and experience low blood sugar levels at least five times each year, you may want to talk to your doctor. Why?
New findings presented at the American Diabetes Association’s virtual Scientific Sessions announced that five or more hypoglycemic events, when combined with Type 2 diabetes, increases the risk for cardiovascular events by 61%. Those events most often include heart arrythmia and stroke.
The study also found that the people most likely to experience low blood sugar tend to be 65 years or older (especially those who also use insulin).
Researchers have demonstrated this link before. A 2010 study of 11,140 adults found that severe low blood sugar levels were associated with a 161% increased risk for cardiovascular events. This new data, derived from the data of 4.9 million adults with Type 2 diabetes, should merit your attention and maybe new action. In addition to talking with your primary care provider, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian, here are steps you can take to reduce your risk of an arrythmia or stroke.
What can you do to prevent drops in blood sugar?
1. Monitor blood sugar levels.
An amount of 70 mg/dL or less is considered “low” for most people (though blood sugar is more than just a number). What will a low level feel like for you? You may notice a rapid heart rate, anxiety, sweating, irritability, or shakiness. Get to know your daily rhythms. What time of day does your blood sugar tend to fall? What foods cause it to fall? Becoming body-wise will help you notice a low level before it happens.
2. Rethink your insulin.
Insulin, as well as your sulfonylureas or other medications, could need a second look. After all, they may impact your glucose levels, even causing them to drop.
3. Limit added sugar.
Sugary, refined food and drinks will spike your blood sugar before causing it to plummet to a low level. Think of sports drinks, juice and flavored water – how do they leave you feeling after you drink them? Read the nutrition facts label and keep in mind that four grams of sugar represents one teaspoon of added sugar. Aim to limit yourself to 10 teaspoons of added sugar each day, as a start.
4. Eat well.
By choosing foods that contain fiber, fat and protein, you will stabilize your blood sugar levels, because those ingredients are harder for your body to break down. Seek out nuts, seeds, and avocado, too. Fill up on vegetables, fruits and lean protein to maintain not only a healthy blood sugar level, but a larger amount of energy as well!