What is Prediabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition in which a build up of
glucose in the body which can damage tiny blood vessels in the heart,
kidneys, eyes, and nervous system. In healthy people the body produces
insulin to help cells use the glucose found in food. In diabetics either
the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t properly use
the insulin it does produce. Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast
cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from
heart disease or stroke.
Most don’t realize that type 2 diabetes develops gradually. You
may assume that as long as your blood glucose is within normal limits
at each annual medical exam you do not have diabetes and therefore do
not need to make any lifestyle changes. This assumption can have devastating
consequences because you may actually be suffering from Prediabetes.
Prediabetes means that you have a higher than normal blood sugar level,
but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes is diagnosed
by measuring Glycohemoglobin, or HgA1c, in the blood. HgA1c is the gold
standard for diagnosing diabetes since it measures what your blood sugar
has been averaging over a 3 month period, providing your physician with
a more accurate assessment of your health.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
Millions of people have diabetes and prediabetes and don’t know
it. It is important to diagnose and treat prediabetes as soon as possible
before it progresses since recent research has shown that some long term
damage to the body, especially the heart and the vascular system, may
already be occurring during prediabetes. The symptoms of prediabetes can
be gradual and include:
· Increased thirst
· Frequent urination
· Blurred vision
· Tingling or numbness of hands and feet
Risk factors for prediabetes include:
· Overweight or obesity
· Family history of diabetes
· History of gestational diabetes
· High blood pressure
· High triglycerides
· Low HDL cholesterol
Significant dietary changes are necessary once a diagnosis of prediabetes
has been made. A healthy diet should include low fat proteins, vegetables,
whole grains, and other low sugar, low carb choices. In addition, regular
exercise, at least 150 minutes a week, is also mandatory in order to reduce
body weight. Your glucose and HgA1c should be monitored routinely by your
doctor. If diet and exercise are not effective at reducing your HgA1c,
medication may be necessary.
While a diagnosis of prediabetes is serious it is more easily treated
than full-blown type 2 diabetes. With long-term integration of healthier
lifestyle habits diabetes can be avoided completely, and your risk of
death from diabetes related medical conditions will decrease significantly.
For more information, visit theAmerican Diabetes Association page.
Written byJosette Taglieri, D.O.