Diabetes doesn’t just come knocking at the door one morning when you wake up. Diabetes is foreshadowed if you understand its disguise. If you can catch prediabetes before it becomes diabetes you can prevent some the permanent damage to your cardiovascular system and pancreas, the insulin-producing organ.
The Significance of Prediabetes
There are over 86 million people in the US that have prediabetes and 9 out of 10 of those people do not even know they have it. Once someone is diagnosed with prediabetes they will most likely develop diabetes within ten years if they do not make lasting lifestyle changes. Being diagnosed with prediabetes is a gift or warning to make changes now before permanent damage occurs.
How Would You Know If You Have Prediabetes?
Prediabetes doesn’t have any signs or symptoms. That is the scary thing. Your body doesn’t give any warning until diabetes has shown its ugly face. However, your healthcare provider may have checked a basic or complete metabolic panel that includes a blood glucose test. In our busy healthcare system, having an elevated blood sugar at the prediabetes level often gets missed by busy providers. Ask for your results and if your glucose level was done after you had been fasting and was greater than 100, then you should have this repeated with one of the tests below. If you have symptoms of excessive thirst, increased urination, blurry vision or frequent fatigue, then this could indicate that you have diabetes.
What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a problem with processing sugar or glucose, mostly from the foods we eat, leading to higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be diabetes. This is partially due to the body not utilizing insulin in the normal way. Over time this problem with insulin progresses, leading to higher blood sugars and diabetes. There are three tests for diagnosing prediabetes and diabetes:
- Glycated Hemoglobin (A1c) which indicates an average blood sugar over 2-3 months time. An A1c between 5.7-6.4 indicates prediabetes. An A1c over 6.4 over two different occasions indicates diabetes.
- Fasting Blood Sugar is done by taking a blood sample after 8 hours of fasting (usually done overnight). Under 100 is considered normal. Having a result between 100-125 indicates prediabetes. Having a result 126 or greater on two different occasions indicates the individual may have prediabetes.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is a slightly more involved test but probably the most accurate since it directly assesses how the body manages a glucose challenge. This test is done fasting as well but the individual is given a sugary drink and blood sugar levels are checked before and several times afterwards. A normal reading is under 140. Having a reading between 140-199 is considered prediabetes; greater than 199 is considered diabetes.
Who Should Be On Alert For Prediabetes?
The exact cause of prediabetes isn’t well understood but there is a genetic link and it is associated with leading an inactive lifestyle and having abdominal fat. The following are indications for getting checked for prediabetes:
- Have/had a parent with type 2 diabetes
- Having a waist circumference > than 35 for women, > 40 for men
- Are overweight
- Are inactive
- Are of Asian, African, Pacific Island, Hispanic or American Indian descent
- Are over 45
- Had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over 9 pounds
- Had PCOS- polycystic ovary syndrome
- Have sleep apnea
- Have high triglycerides, low HDL or have high blood pressure
Prediabetes Is A Chance For A Do-Over!
The Diabetes Prevention Program, a multi-center clinical research study, showed that a 7% weight loss along with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week greatly reduced the risk of developing diabetes in those who had prediabetes. For a 200 pound individual that’s only 14 pounds! That’s not a huge amount of weight. Couple that with a walk after dinner most nights and that’s a pretty doable plan.
Let Me Help You
This is my passion. I understand the nuances to making lifestyle changes. I will help you find your steps towards prevention of diabetes.