Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Too much glucose in your blood can damage your body over time. If you have prediabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Most people with prediabetes don’t have any symptoms. Your doctor can use an A1C test or another blood test to find out if your blood glucose levels are higher than normal. If you are 45 years old or older, your doctor may recommend that you be tested for prediabetes, especially if you are overweight.
Losing weight – at least 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight – can prevent or delay diabetes or even reverse prediabetes. That’s 10 to 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds. You can lose weight by cutting down on the amount of calories and fat you eat and being physically active at least 30 minutes a day. Being physically active makes your body’s insulin work better. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help control the amount of glucose in your blood.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they usually have prediabetes. In people who have prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to say they have diabetes. Normal “fasting blood sugar” is between 70 and 99 mg per dL. Fasting blood sugar is your blood sugar level you before you have something to eat in the morning. Fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125 mg per dL suggests prediabetes. Fasting blood sugar higher than 126 mg per dL is considered diabetes. People who have prediabetes have a high risk of eventually developing diabetes.
You can lower your risk of developing diabetes by making changes in your lifestyle. If you are overweight, losing weight can help. Losing weight also helps lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Exercise is also important. Your exercise routine should include 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) at least 5 times a week. Ask your doctor what exercise level is safe for you.
Follow a healthy diet. Eat foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, beans, poultry and other meats. Don’t eat a lot of processed foods or sweeteners such as sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, or molasses. Eat foods made with whole grains instead of white flour.
Your doctor might refer you to a dietitian or diabetes educator to help you change your eating and exercise habits.
Half of all people over 65 have pre-diabetes, and many people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are unaware of their condition. Some risk factors are inherited and some are acquired as we get older.
As we age the chance of developing pre-diabetes goes up — most people have increased risk after age 40.
Genetics and family
Some factors that increase or decrease pre-diabetes risk are inherited from our parents. Having a close biological relative with diabetes may indicate you have higher risk. Certain ethnic groups carry a higher risk of developing diabetes, including those of African, Alaskan Native, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander descent.
Some pregnant women develop diabetes until the baby is born, and have a higher risk of developing diabetes again later in life.
Regardless of the number of risk factors that apply to you, you can make choices to improve your body’s ability to manage your condition. Choose well and get the support you need to learn more about healthy lifestyles.
You are at risk for prediabetes if any of the following are true:
- You are overweight or obese.
- You have a parent, brother or sister who has diabetes.
- You had diabetes during pregnancy (called gestational diabetes) or had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth.
- You belong to any of the following ethnic groups: African American, Native American, Latin American or Asian/Pacific Islander.
- You have high blood pressure (above 140/90 mm Hg).
- Your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level (“good” cholesterol) is less than 40 mg per dL (for men) or less than 50 mg per dl (for women), or your triglyceride level is higher than 250 mg per dL.
- You are a woman who has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Your doctor can give you a blood test to check for prediabetes.
Diabetes medicines are not as effective as diet and exercise. However, your doctor might prescribe medicine if you are at high risk for diabetes and have other medical problems, such as obesity, a high triglyceride level, a low HDL cholesterol level or high blood pressure.