Prediabetes: Understanding And Heeding This Warning Diagnosis

Has your physician alerted you to the fact that you are prediabetic? While this warning certainly warrants concern, you are not alone. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, you are in the company of more than 85 million other individuals across America with prediabetes.  Understanding what this diagnosis means and what you should do about it now can be pivotal in ensuring your healthier future.

What Does Prediabetes Mean?

Simply, prediabetes is the precursor to diabetes. A diagnosis of prediabetes must be heeded as a strong warning that diabetes is looming on the horizon. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that is characterized by the body's inability to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, resulting in abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood. If you have prediabetes, which is also known as impaired glucose tolerance, your blood glucose levels are elevated above the normal range, but they are not yet high enough for you to be considered diabetic.

Why Were You Tested?

Like many with prediabetes, you may not have been experiencing any of the classic symptoms of diabetes, such as increased thirst and urination, so why were you tested for diabetes? Your physician likely performed a screening test in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the American Diabetes Association. The recommendation is that blood glucose testing should be performed on all patients who are 45 years of age and older. However, testing earlier is recommended if a patient's body mass index exceeds 25 and he or she has any one of the following risk factors:

  • An inactive lifestyle
  • A prior history of gestational diabetes
  • Gave birth to a baby whose weight exceeded 9 pounds
  • A family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Are American-Indian, African-American, Asian American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander ethnicity
  • A history of hypertension
  • A history of abnormal cholesterol levels

Since the damage caused by diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, can already start to creep in during prediabetes, it is important to diagnose prediabetes as early as possible.

What Do the Test Results Indicate?

Three blood tests that can be performed to test a patient for diabetes, all of which will also indicate a prediabetic state, include the following:

  • The A1C test reveals the average blood glucose level for the past three months. An A1C result of 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. A diagnosis of diabetes is made if the resulting value is 6.5 percent or higher.
  • The fasting plasma glucose test is typically performed by drawing blood from a patient who is fasted for a minimum of eight hours. Prediabetes is diagnosed when the test result ranges between 100mg/dl and 125 mg/dl. A higher value means that the patient has diabetes.
  • The oral glucose tolerance test requires the patient to drink a sugary solution. Blood is drawn before and again two hours after the solution is consumed. When the result of the second blood draw falls between 140 mg/dl and 199 mg/dl, prediabetes is confirmed. A higher value indicates diabetes.

Once you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, your physician will need to retest your blood periodically to monitor your condition. In the meantime, the good news is that you can take this diagnosis as a prompt to take steps to reverse your number back toward the normal range.

What Can You Do About It?

There are some things that you can do in an attempt to avoid a diagnosis of diabetes in your future. Patients can reduce their chances of going on to develop diabetes by nearly 60 percent by making the following lifestyle changes a priority:

  • Achieve and maintain your ideal weight.
  • Engage in moderate aerobic exercise, such as cycling or speed walking, for 30 minutes each day on at least five days per week.
  • Embrace a healthy meal plan by eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, fresh vegetables and whole grain carbohydrates. Keep your portion sizes controlled, and limit your intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates.

By ignoring your diagnosis of prediabetes and not making the aforementioned efforts to reverse your condition, you will likely develop type 2 diabetes within the next 10 years. Diabetes ranks at number seven among the leading causes of death. These sobering facts should be all the incentive that you need to take control now to preserve your health in the future.

Fore more information, consult a doctor (like those at Advance Medical of Naples).