Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Hemoglobin A1c blood test measure and why is it important?

The HbA1c is a blood test that estimates a patient’s average blood sugar level over a period of two or three months.  It is not a lab requiring fasting. This test is important in that it indicates how well the diabetes is managed and what interventions are required to avoid issues due to high blood sugar levels.

How does diabetes affect my vision and what are the benefits of an eye exam?

Exposure to high blood glucose can damage the walls of the blood vessels in the eyes and result in diabetic retinopathy.

Although retinopathy cannot be cured, it is important to catch early as treatment at early stages can be very effective in preserving vision.  Additionally, annual comprehensive eye exams can detect glaucoma and cataracts which are often diagnosed earlier in patients with diabetes.

How does diabetes affect my kidneys?

Elevated blood sugar levels can result in damage to the kidneys, a condition called diabetic nephropathy.  This condition results in increased levels of protein in the urine detected by a simple non-fasting microalbumin urine test.  It is important to diagnose diabetic nephropathy at an early stage for more effective treatment.

Do I need to see my Primary Care Provider if my diabetes is managed by an Endocrinologist?

It is important to visit your Primary Care Provider at least once per year even if you are seeing an Endocrinologist.  Your PCP will be managing your blood pressure, cholesterol and additional areas of your overall care.  When seeing an Endocrinologist within our network the notes for both providers are easily accessed through your electronic medical record enabling enhanced communication for the providers and though the Lahey Portal.

What are the benefits of seeing the Diabetes Nurse Educator?

A Diabetes Nurse Educator has time to evaluate and assess areas of a patient’s care that require more information for sustainable self-management.  This important resource is most valuable at the initial diagnosis of diabetes and if a patient requires added guidance and support. The education can include information custom to each patient with instruction on medications, signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia, and medication peak performance.  Additionally, pharmacy questions and options may be included.

What are the benefits of meeting with the health coach and registered dietician?

Weight loss, appropriate nutrition and learning techniques to move wellness goals forward are an important aspect of managing diabetes.  Additionally, moderate exercise can help with losing body fat which can improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes, and positively affect blood pressure and cholesterol.

Can weight loss impact my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes?

Yes, weigh loss can usually improve insulin resistance.  Often the Hemoglobin A1c percentage can be reduced with improved control by losing just 5-10% of your body weight.

Do my labs need to be completed at my appointment or can I visit a lab prior to my visit?

Your provider will be adding labs to be completed in your electronic medical record so that you are able to visit a Winchester Hospital lab prior to your visit.  A list of lab collection sites can be obtained from your primary care practice.  Additionally, some providers prefer to draw the Hemoglobin A1c and collect the microalbumin urine lab during your visit.  Please ask the practice when you schedule your appointment or contact the provider through your Lahey Portal.