Prediabetes - The Problem and How You Can Prevent It

Prediabetes - The Problem and How You Can Prevent It

Roughly one-third to one-half of adults currently have prediabetes, but does that statistic really matter? After all, these adults aren’t actually diabetic yet, so the health risk isn’t actually there, right? Wrong. UnityPoint Health Diabetes Steering Committee Chair, David Trachtenbarg, MD, talks about how to prevent diabetes, starting with prediabetes.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels aren’t quite high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes, but without change, will most likely develop into diabetes in as little as 10 years.

“The large number of adults who already exhibit signs of prediabetes indicates that millions of people are at risk for developing a serious disease with many serious complications, diabetes,” Dr. Trachtenbarg says.

This is the concern of health care providers across the country, so much so that some are labeling prediabetes as “an epidemic that’s out of control.” There’s good reason to take prediabetes seriously. Even before an adult is diagnosed with diabetes, prediabetes can start to have the same negative effects on the body.

“Although much less common than with overt diabetes, if you have prediabetes, you are at increased risk for heart attacks and strokes, as well as kidney, nerve and eye problems. The best way to detect if someone has prediabetes is through a blood test,” Dr. Trachtenbarg says.

Blood glucose, or blood sugar, is closely examined when determining a prediabetes diagnosis. For someone who is diabetic, a fasting blood glucose result would be 126 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or higher. Prediabetes blood glucose results would fall in the 100-125 mg/dL range. A provider might also do another blood test, an A1C, which looks at hemoglobin levels. A1C results of 6.5 percent or higher would point to diabetes; 5.8-6.4 percent is categorized as prediabetes.

 Blood Test  Results  Status
 Blood Glucose  100 - 125 mg/dL  Pre-Diabetic
 Blood Glucose  126 mg/dL  Diabetic
 A1C  5.8% - 6.4%  Pre-Diabetic
 A1C  6.5% or higher  Diabetic

How to Reverse Prediabetes

Luckily, reversing prediabetes is possible. If identified, the progression toward diabetes can be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. In some cases, your health provider may also prescribe medication, such as metformin.

“Regular exercise, such as walking for at least 30 minutes, at least five times a week, or aerobic exercise, like jogging, brisk walking and resistance training, are all good activity options. Controlling weight is a key factor. For people with prediabetes, even a five percent weight loss can be a powerful preventive measure,” Dr. Trachtenbarg says.

UnityPoint Health also provides patients with diabetes education programming at some locations, in order to help prevent prediabetes.

“These programs have been shown to reduce your chance of developing diabetes by up to 50 percent. However, like many other lifestyle changes, these programs require a significant time commitment, approximately one session per week for the first six months, followed by one session per month for the next six months,” Dr. Trachtenbarg says.

Are you included in the number of adults who have prediabetes? Take this quick diabetes assessment to determine how at-risk you are for the disease. For questions about reversing prediabetes or prediabetes treatment options, talk to your UnityPoint Health provider.

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