By Mary Hiller

Communications Coordinator for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

OSCEOLA COUNTY —The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is recognizing Men’s Health Month this June and National Men’s Health Week from June 15 through June 21 by educating men about preventing and controlling diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney failure.

Approximately 15.5 million men have diabetes in the U.S., which is 13.6 percent of all men ages 20 and older. Men with diabetes and their families can face devastating complications from unmanaged diabetes, especially since people with diabetes are at a high risk for heart attack and stroke. In addition to causing kidney failure, diabetes can also lead to blindness, lower leg amputations and erectile dysfunction. Although diabetes is a serious, life-long condition, there is good news. Taking care of your diabetes and your health can help you avoid long-term health problems and enjoy a long and healthy life.

Men with diabetes can reduce their chances of having life-threatening complications by managing their A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol (ABCs of diabetes).

  • “A” is for the A1C test. The A1C test shows you what your blood glucose has been over the last three months. The A1C goal for many people is below seven. High blood glucose levels can harm your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes.
  • “B” for blood pressure. The goal for most people is 130/80. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It can cause heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
  • “C” is for cholesterol. Bad cholesterol (LDL) builds up and clogs your arteries. The LDL goal for most people with diabetes is below 100. Good cholesterol (HDL) helps remove cholesterol from your blood vessels. The HDL goal for most people is above 40.

For those with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes alike, it’s also important to maintain healthy nutrition and to include physical activity in your daily routine. By making these healthy lifestyle choices part of your life, you can help to prevent type 2 diabetes, and also help to manage diabetes if you have already been diagnosed. It’s also important for men to quit smoking. Smoking increases your chance of having type 2 diabetes and makes diabetes harder to control, making it even more deadly and disabling for individuals with diabetes. A nicotine replacement product or other medications can help you stop smoking.

It’s essential for men with diabetes to take action to reach their ABC targets and for all men — especially those with diabetes and those who are at risk — to follow to a healthy lifestyle in order to preserve their health and quality of life. If you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and want to take action on your health, considering joining the NKFM’s My Choice ... My Health: Diabetes Prevention Program.

For more information, visit nkfm.org or call the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan at 800-482-1455.