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 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 the
American Diabetes Association page.
Written by Josette Taglieri, D.O.