ACE inhibitor
Also known as angiotensin (an-gee-oh-TEN-sin) converting enzyme, an ACE inhibitor is an oral medication that lowers blood pressure and helps slow down kidney damage in people with diabetes, especially those who have protein (albumin) in their urine.

A1C test (hemoglobin)
This test measures average blood glucose level over the previous two to three months. Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen to other cells in the body and sometimes joins with the glucose in the bloodstream. The test shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cell, which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood. Results are given as a percentage or as an average glucose value.
See impaired fasting glucose (IFG), prediabetes and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

added sugars
These sugars, syrups and other caloric sweeteners are added when foods are processed or prepared. Added sugars do not include sugars that occur naturally, such as fructose in fruit or lactose in milk. Examples of added sugars include brown or cane sugar, corn sugar, sweetener or syrup, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, etc.

adult-onset diabetes
An older term for type 2 diabetes.

The thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries, which typically occurs with old age.

The hardening and narrowing of the body’s larger arteries and blood vessels due to fat and cholesterol buildup. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, eye problems and kidney problems.


background retinopathy
An early stage of retinal damage that occurs when small blood vessels in the retina show signs of bleeding, fluid accumulation and abnormal dilation that can result from diabetes.

bariatric surgery
Also known as gastrointestinal surgery or weight-loss surgery, this is performed on the stomach and/or intestines to help patients who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more lose weight. This surgery may also be an option for people with a BMI of 35 to 39 who have health problems related to obesity such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

beta cell
A cell located in the pancreas that manufactures insulin.

blood cholesterol
A type of fat produced by the liver and found in the blood. Cholesterol is also found in some foods. The body uses cholesterol to make hormones and build cell walls.

blood glucose
The main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of fuel.

blood glucose meter
A small, portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood glucose levels. A small drop of blood, obtained by pricking the skin with a lancet, is placed on a disposable test strip that the meter reads and uses to calculate the blood glucose level.

body mass index (BMI)
A measure used to evaluate body weight relative to a person’s height. BMI is used to find out if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. For adults, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy (or “normal”). A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.

blood sugar See blood glucose.


A “carb” is a major source of energy for the body. The digestive system changes carbohydrates into blood glucose (sugar). The body uses this sugar to create energy for cells, tissues and organs, and stores any extra sugar in the liver and muscles for when it is needed.

There are two kinds of carbohydrates—simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates include sugars that are a part of some foods, like fructose in fruit, as well as sugars that may be added when foods are processed or prepared (see added sugars). Complex carbohydrates include those that come from legumes and whole grain breads and cereals. Many complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber.

certified diabetes educator (CDE)
A health professional who possesses comprehensive knowledge of and experience in prediabetes and diabetes prevention and management. They provide both the education and support for people diagnosed with diabetes.

chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Any condition that causes reduced kidney function over a period of time. CKD is present when a patient’s glomerular filtration rate (see below) remains below 60 milliliters per minute for more than three months. CKD may develop over many years and lead to end-stage renal disease.
See end-stage renal disease.

coronary heart disease
Heart disease caused by narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. If the blood supply is cut off, the result is a heart attack.

Creatinine is a chemical waste product produced by muscle metabolism and, to a smaller extent, by eating meat. Creatinine is removed from the body by the kidneys; with kidney disease, the level of creatinine in the blood is high.


A condition characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) resulting from the body’s inability to use blood glucose for energy.
(See type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.)

diabetes educator
See certified diabetes educator (CDE).

diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
An emergency condition in which extremely high blood glucose levels and a severe lack of insulin result in the breakdown of body fat for energy and an accumulation of ketones in the blood and urine. Signs of DKA are nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fruity breath odor and rapid breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death.

diabetic mastopathy
An uncommon, benign disease of the breast that can occur in women and men with diabetes and clinically mimic breast cancer. While the lumps can be surgically removed, they’re likely to recur.

diabetic myelopathy
Spinal cord destruction that occurs due to complications with diabetes.

diabetic retinopathy
Damage to the small blood vessels in the retina, resulting in vision loss. Also called diabetic eye disease.

diagnosed diabetes
A person is considered to have diagnosed diabetes if a doctor or other health professional has ever told him/her that he had diabetes. Women who were told they only had diabetes during pregnancy are not considered to have diabetes.

The process of cleaning wastes from the blood artificially, a job is normally done by the kidneys. If the kidneys fail, the blood must be cleaned artificially with special equipment. The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis (using a machine to clean wastes from the blood after the kidneys have failed) and peritoneal dialysis (using the lining of the abdominal cavity, or belly, as a filter to clean the blood).


end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
Total and permanent kidney failure. When the kidneys fail, the body retains fluid. Harmful wastes build up. A person with ESRD needs treatment to replace the work of the failed kidneys.


fasting blood glucose test
A measurement of blood glucose after fasting for at least eight hours. It is often the first test done to check for prediabetes and diabetes.


Refers to the death of body tissue due to a lack of blood flow or a bacterial infection; sometimes leads to amputation.

gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)
A type of diabetes that only develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after delivery. It increases the mother’s risk of developing diabetes later in life. GDM is managed with meal planning, physical activity and, in some cases, medication.

Increased pressure within the eyeball, causing gradual loss of sight.

glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
The rate at which the kidneys filter wastes and extra fluid from the blood, measured in milliliters per minute.

See blood glucose.

Glycemic index
Measurement for carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on blood glucose.


hemoglobin A1C test
See A1C test (hemoglobin).

high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
A waxy substance made of fat and protein found in the blood that takes extra cholesterol from the blood to the liver for removal, sometimes called “good” cholesterol.
Also see blood cholesterol.

Chemical messengers that are released directly into the blood, and are carried to organs and tissues for a specific function. For example, the hormone insulin is manufactured in the pancreas and then circulated to the other cells to tell them when to use glucose for energy.

An abnormally high blood glucose (blood sugar) level. Fasting hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose is at a high level after a fast of at least eight hours. Postprandial hyperglycemia refers to a high blood glucose one to two hours after a person has eaten.

A condition where the blood insulin level is higher than what is considered normal in people without diabetes. Often due to overproduction of insulin by the body.

hyperglycemic crisis
See diabetic ketoacidosis.

hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state
An emergency condition in which one’s blood glucose level is very high and ketones are not present in the blood or urine. If not treated, it can lead to coma or death.

A condition that occurs when blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Hypertension can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney problems and death. Also called high blood pressure.

A condition that occurs when blood glucose level is lower than normal, usually below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Symptoms include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or lightheadedness, sleepiness and confusion. If left untreated, hypoglycemia may lead to unconsciousness. Also called low blood glucose.


impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
A condition in which a fasting blood glucose test shows a level of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), which is higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with IFG are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. See prediabetes, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and A1C test (hemoglobin).

impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
A condition in which blood glucose levels measured after a glucose challenge are higher than normal, but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. IGT occurs when blood glucose measures 140 to 199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) two hours after the start of an oral glucose tolerance test. People with IGT are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. See A1C test (hemoglobin), impaired fasting glucose (IFT) and prediabetes.

A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin is taken by injection or other means.

insulin pump
This insulin-delivering device is about the size of a deck of cards and can be worn on a belt or kept in a pocket. An insulin pump connects to narrow, flexible plastic tubing that ends with a needle inserted just under the skin. Users set the pump to give a steady trickle, or basal amount, of insulin continuously throughout the day. Pumps release doses of insulin at meals and at times when blood glucose is too high, based on doses set by the user.

insulin resistance
The body’s inability to respond to and use the insulin it produces. Insulin resistance may be linked to obesity, hypertension and high levels of fat in the blood.

intermittent claudication:
A condition in which cramping pain in the leg is induced by exercise, typically caused by obstruction of the arteries. See peripheral artery disease.

ischemic heart disease
See coronary heart disease.



See diabetic ketoacidosis.

Ketones are organic compounds created when body fat is broken down for energy and there’s a shortage of insulin in the blood. Too many ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma.

kidney disease
See chronic kidney disease (CKD).


latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA)
A type of diabetes, usually first diagnosed after age 30, in which people show signs of both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Most people with LADA still produce their own insulin when first diagnosed and do not require insulin injections. Several years after diagnosis, people with LADA must take insulin to control blood glucose levels.

See blood cholesterol.

low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
A waxy substance composed of fat and protein found in the blood that takes cholesterol around the body to where it is needed for cell repair. LDL cholesterol contributes to plaque deposits on the inside of artery walls that can clog arteries and make them less flexible; sometimes called “bad” cholesterol. Also see blood cholesterol.


metabolic syndrome
A person with metabolic syndrome has a group of medical problems that may increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. These problems are a large waist size, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high levels of triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY)
A monogenic (i.e., related to a single gene) form of diabetes that usually first occurs during adolescence or early adulthood.


Disease of the kidneys causing damage that allows protein to leak out of the kidneys into the urine. Damaged kidneys can no longer remove wastes and extra fluid from the bloodstream.

Disease of the nervous system that causes muscle weakness, pain and numbness. The most common form of neuropathy in people with diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the legs and feet.



A glandular organ that makes enzymes that help the body break down and use nutrients in food. The pancreas also produces the hormone insulin and releases it into the bloodstream to help the body control blood sugar levels.

peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
A condition in which the large blood vessels of the legs are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits, decreasing blood flow to the legs and feet. Also called peripheral vascular disease, PAD is marked chiefly by cramping pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in the legs and increases the chances of amputation, heart attack and stroke. See intermittent claudication.

A condition classified in people who have blood glucose or hemoglobin A1C levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. See A1C test (hemoglobin), impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

Protein in the urine; indicates that the kidneys are not working properly.



registered dietitian (RD)
A person who has completed a diet and nutrition program at a college approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). To become an RD, a person must complete 900 hours of supervised practical experience accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and pass an exam.



A type of fat in the blood, triglycerides can contribute to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries if levels are too high. This increases risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Triglycerides are measured along with cholesterol as part of a blood test. Normal triglyceride levels are below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Levels above 200 mg/dL are high.

type 1 diabetes
A condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by a lack of insulin. This occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in children and young adults but can appear in older adults.

type 2 diabetes
A condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in children, teens and young adults.







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