Reviewed by Professor Ian W Campbell, consultant physician
What is the blood sugar level?
The blood sugar level is the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is also known as plasma glucose level. It is expressed as millimoles per litre (mmol/l).
Normally blood glucose levels stay within narrow limits throughout the day: 4 to 8mmol/l. But they are higher after meals and usually lowest in the morning.
In diabetes the blood sugar level moves outside these limits until treated. Even with good control of diabetes, the blood sugar level will still at times drift outside this normal range.
Why control blood sugar levels?
When very high levels of blood glucose are present for years, it leads to damage of the small blood vessels.
This in turn increases your risk of developing late-stage diabetes complications including:
- retinopathy (eye disease)
- nephropathy (kidney disease)
- neuropathy (nerve disease)
cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack, hypertension, heart failure, stroke and problems caused by poor circulation, eg gangrene in the worst cases.
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