Diabetes Health Checks
To ensure we stay healthy, as people with diabetes, we should undergo a number of important health checks each year.
Some of the checks are ones which we should receive at least once each year and others are dependent on specific circumstances.
Essential diabetes health checks
The following health checks are ones which all people with diabetes should receive once a year. The one exception to this rule is children under 12 years old.
Blood glucose control check – HbA1c test
This may be carried out either via a blood sample taken from your arm, or if it is the only blood check, via a finger prick test.
Blood lipid check – cholesterol test
This test requires a blood sample from your arm.
Blood samples will usually require you to arrange for the blood test to be taken at least a couple of weeks before your annual diabetic care review.
Check with your health team if you need more information about the process.
Kidney function check
Two different tests are carried out to check for kidney problems.
For the first check, a urine sample is needed. Ideally you should bring your urine sample with you to your diabetic care review.
The urine test looks for the presence of protein in the urine. No protein in the urine is a good sign.
The second check is done via a blood sample which checks the glomerular filtration rate of the kidneys; in other words, how well the kidneys are functioning.
Blood pressure check
Your blood pressure will usually be measured at your clinic or diabetic care review. The test is not complicated but you will need to be in a rested state whilst your blood pressure is being checked to prevent the reading being higher than it should be.
People’s blood pressure can rise in a short space of time and the doctor or nurse may need to repeat the test if a high reading is recorded.
Each year you should be offered a retinopathy screening check. The check involves having a photograph taken of your retina at the back of your eye. The retinopathy check may be carried out at a hospital or at an opticians. Your doctor or local retinopathy service should inform you of where you can have your retinopathy test performed.
Check with your health team whether you need to book yourself in for a test or whether the booking will be done on your behalf.
As with all of the above, feet checks should be performed at least once a year. At the foot check, the doctor or nurse will look for signs of damage to the skin (such as cuts, burns, blisters or ulcers), will check your circulation and test the level of feeling in your feet for any signs of neuropathy (nerve damage).
You should have your weight checked at each diabetic care review or clinic, even if you’re a healthy weight. If you are overweight, you should have your waist measured as well.
Additional diabetes health checks
In addition to the essential health checks above, a number of additional health checks should be performed where relevant.
An individual diabetes care plan
A diabetes care plan should be to set up targets that are appropriate for you along with listing any personal needs to help you manage your diabetes and health.
- Read more about a diabetes care plan
People with diabetes should be offered the opportunity to join a diabetes education course.
Children should receive specialist paediatric care and receive adequate support when they move into adult care.
If you are planning on having a baby, it is important that you receive specialist care to help you keep tight control of your diabetes through your pregnancy.
Support to quit smoking
Because the combination of smoking and diabetes significantly raises the chance of complications such as heart disease and stroke, people with diabetes who are looking to quit smoking should receive advice and support to help.
People with diabetes have a higher chance of needing psychological support and this should be provided by your health team where needed.
Access to medical specialists
People with diabetes should be given access to a range of specialists, such as dietitians and podiatrists, as and when needed to help manage diabetes and any related conditions or complications.
Care in hospital
People with diabetes admitted to hospital should expect high quality care and should have appropriate access to specialists.
- Read more about diabetes care in hospital