Health officials urge us to ‘know our numbers’ in particular when it comes to indicators of heart disease. But many doctors find people are clueless when it comes to numbers related to diabetes.

“We need to know our HDL, LDL and our cholesterol but you need to know your hemoglobin A1c,” says Dr. Yorke.

Dr. Victoria Yorke is a primary care physician with Lee Memorial Health System. Blood sugar is a good start, but she advises her patients to get a fuller picture.

“I tell them they need a test called a hemoglobin A1c. And that tells you not just what your sugar is that day, but what it’s been for the last three months,” says Dr. Yorke.

The A1c measures your glucose over time. The lifespan of a red blood cell is about 120 days. By dissecting the sugar attached to it, doctors get an average read on your blood sugar. Used for diabetes management, the American Diabetes Association recommends it as a diagnostic tool because it looks beyond blood sugar fluctuations.

“You can have a normal fasting sugar, meaning under 100 and your hemoglobin A1c is elevated, between 5.7 and 6.4 you’re considered pre-diabetic; and you should know that number,” says Dr. Yorke.

It’s estimated 86-million Americans are pre-diabetic. Getting a real read on their risk may provide a good opportunity to better their overall health.

“What is the number one killer in this country? Vascular disease. One of the biggest culprits for vascular disease is long-term diabetes. It’s not having high sugar just once- it’s over time,” says Dr. Yorke.

Making it pay to know your numbers.

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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.