The table below summarizes many of the tests that can be done to identify complications from diabetes, including those tests done during a physical examination. The physical examination evaluates your overall health. The doctor pays special attention to your eyes, blood vessels, heart, lungs, nerves, abdomen, and feet.
Complications from diabetes and the tests used to detect them
Organ or condition
What it shows
High blood sugar
Every 3 to 6 months, have a hemoglobin A1c test.
How steady your blood sugar levels have been over time
7% or less for most non-pregnant adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes
7.5% or less for children younger than 18 years old with type 1 diabetes
(Your goal may be lower or higher, based on your health and age.)
High blood pressure
Have your blood pressure checked once at least year. If your blood pressure is high have it checked more often.
Pressure of blood flow in your arteries
Less than 130 mm Hg systolic (top number) and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic (bottom number)
Every year, have your urine checked for the protein albumin. Also, have your blood checked for the waste product creatinine.
These are used to calculate an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
Whether kidney disease is developing
ACR less than 2.0 mg/mmol
24-hour urine albumin less than 30 mg per day
Estimated glomular filtration rate (eGFR) greater than 60 mL/min
Every year, visit an ophthalmologist or an optometrist for a dilated eye examination (ophthalmoscopy). Some doctors may recommend less frequent eye examinations (for example, every 2 years) if you have no signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Whether retinopathy (damage to back of the eye) has developed
No retinal damage
Every year, get a thorough examination of your feet.
Whether foot ulcers have developed
Whether the person has lost any sensation
No foot ulcers or loss of sensation
Your dentist will recommend how often to have routine checkups. Many people should see their dentists once or twice a year.
Healthy gums and teeth
All children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes should have a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test every two years.
Normal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level
Your doctor may recommend a liver function blood test, especially if you are taking a medicine that could affect your liver.
Normal liver function test
Every year get your cholesterol levels checked.
Along with other measures, cholesterol levels can help you know your risk for heart attack or stroke.
LDL 2.0 mmol/L or less
The goal in treating cholesterol is to lower your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke. The goal is not just to lower your cholesterol numbers.
Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee (2013). Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 clinical practice guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetes in Canada. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 37(Suppl 1). Also available online: http://guidelines.diabetes.ca.
Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology Matthew I. Kim MD - Endocrinology
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology & Matthew I. Kim MD - Endocrinology
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