Prediabetes: The Health Risk Many People Don’t Know They Have

Post Date: May 2015

Most people who have a high risk of developing diabetes don’t even know it. Could you be one of them? 

A surprising fact is that more than 1 out of every 3 adults in the US has prediabetes, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Prediabetes does not have any clear symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get tested.

The good news is that there are many actions you can take to lower your risk. Here’s where to start.

Do you know what increases your risk for type 2 diabetes?

Your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher if you:

  • Are overweight or obese (see Assessing Your Weight)
  • Have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level or your doctor said you have prediabetes
  • Are not physically active (do physical activity less than three times per week)
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Have a family background that is African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Are  45 or older
  • Had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome  
  • Have a blood pressure of 140/90 or above or your doctor said you have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal cholesterol levels or your doctor said you have high cholesterol

The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Should you get tested for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Experts recommend that people 45 or older get tested for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.  If you are younger than 45 and are overweight and have other risk factors, you should consider getting tested.

There are three different blood tests: HbA1c test, fasting blood glucose test, and oral glucose tolerance test.  Your doctor will decide which test is best for you.

What can you do to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes?

The two most important ways to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes are to lose weight (if you are overweight or obese) and get regular exercise. Losing just 5-7% of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.  

Other steps you can take:

  • Eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and reduce the number of calories you eat per day
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels through exercise, healthy diet, and/or medicines
  • If you have prediabetes and diet and exercise are not helping you enough, ask your physician about taking the diabetes medicine metformin

If you have risk factors and have not been tested for diabetes, ask your doctor if you should be tested.

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease.  Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary.  Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regimen.

Sources

Abnormal Glucose and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Adults: Screening, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryDraft/screening-for-abnormal-glucose-and-type-2-diabetes-mellitus

Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, National Institute for Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/riskfortype2/index.aspx

Are You At Risk? American Diabetes Association:

http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/

Assessing Your Weight, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/

Diabetes Risk Factor, National Diabetes Education Program:

http://ndep.nih.gov/am-i-at-risk/DiabetesRiskFactors.aspx

Who Is At Risk? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/risk/index.html

Prediabetes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/images/prediabetes-inforgraphic.jpg

Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2015, American Diabetes Association:

http://professional.diabetes.org/admin/UserFiles/0%20-%20Sean/Documents/January%20Supplement%20Combined_Final.pdf


These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.