Prediabetes: What You Need to Know

By Nadia Nasah, Bridgewater State University

 

Did you know that, according to the CDC, 84 million American Adults have prediabetes and that 90% of those 84 million individuals don’t even know that they are pre-diabetic?

 

What is Prediabetes?

The CDC defines diabetes as a serious health condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than the normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes just yet. Unfortunately, pre-diabetes puts individuals at higher risk for stroke and heart disease, not just type 2 diabetes.

Fasting Blood Sugar Levels Hemoglobin A1c
Normal: Less than 100 mg/dL Normal: Less than 5.7%
Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dL Prediabetes: 5.7-6.4%
Type 2 diabetes: 126 mg/dL or higher Type 2 Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

 

What Causes Prediabetes?

According to the CDC, there is a hormone called insulin in our bodies that are created by the pancreas. It functions as a key to allow blood sugar to enter the cells for use as energy. With prediabetes, the cells no longer respond to that insulin. As a consequence, the pancreas starts creating so much insulin to try and get the cells to respond. Eventually, the pancreas falls behind and can no longer keep up which causes a spike in blood sugar levels– setting the stage for prediabetes– and eventually type 2 diabetes down the road.

 

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

There are those that have prediabetes and show no clear signs for years. This is why it is highly recommended to get your blood glucose levels checked by your doctor if you have any of the following risk factors:

 

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a family relative with type 2 diabetes (parent, brother, or sister)
  • Not being physically active (less than 3 times a week)
  • Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds.
  • Having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • In addition to those risk factors, race and ethnicity are also considered a factor: According to the CDC, “African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk” (CDC).

 

Prevention!

The good news is that prediabetes is reversible. If you have prediabetes, losing even a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity, according to the CDC, can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means losing 5% to 7% of your body weight, which is 10 to 14 pounds for a person weighing 200 pounds.

 

For an adult, normal physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or other similar activities. This means that if you walk for 30 minutes for 5 days, you are getting the normal level of physical activity in.

 

In addition, there is a program led by the CDC called The National Diabetes Prevention Program which can help individuals make those necessary changes and reverse prediabetes! What’s unique about this program is that it can help make those changes stick. According to the CDC, through this program, “you can lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% if you’re over age 60)” (prediabetes, n.d.). Highlights of this program, as stated by the CDC, include:

  • Working with a trained lifestyle coach to make realistic, lasting lifestyle changes
  • Discovering how to eat healthily and add more physical activity into your day
  • Finding out how to manage stress, stay motivated, and solve problems that can slow your progress
  • Getting support from people with similar goals and challenges

To find a Diabetes Prevention Program near you, click here or ask your doctor!

 

References

Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Rising blood sugar: How to turn it around. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diabetes/rising-blood-sugar-how-to-turn-it-around

Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html

 

 

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