Living with diabetes blog

If you have prediabetes, do something about it now

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. May 5, 2011

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they usually have prediabetes or impaired fasting blood glucose. If your blood sugar level is over 100 mg/dL (5.5 mmol) but less than 126 mg/dL (7 mmol), you're considered to have prediabetes.

Prediabetes/diabetes has become a worldwide epidemic. There are 57 million people in the United States alone who have prediabetes and most don't know it, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Unfortunately, many people who believe they're "borderline diabetic" or have "a touch of diabetes" think that they're safe. However, research has shown that some long-term damage is being done to the body, especially to the heart and circulatory system.

  • You're overweight or obese. This can keep your body from making and using insulin properly. Being overweight can also cause high blood pressure.
  • You have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes. If you have a relative with type 2 diabetes, this more than doubles your risk of getting the disease.
  • You're African-American, American Indian, Asian-American, Pacific Islander or of Hispanic/Latino heritage.
  • You had gestational diabetes or gave birth to at least one baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms).
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • Your HDL or "good" cholesterol is below 35 mg/dL (0.9 mmol/L) or your triglyceride level is above 250 mg/dL (2.83 mmol/L).
  • You exercise fewer than three times a week.

You can have prediabetes and not know it. Two tests are commonly used to diagnose prediabetes:

  • Fasting blood glucose. Measures blood glucose first thing in the morning before you eat. A normal fasting blood glucose is between 70 to100 mg/dL (3.8 to 5.5 mmol). You have prediabetes if your fasting blood sugar is 101 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol).
  • Oral glucose tolerance test. Measures blood glucose after fasting and again 2 hours after drinking a glucose-rich drink. Normal blood glucose is below 140 mg/dL (7.7 mmol) 2 hours after the drink. In prediabetes, the 2-hour blood glucose is 140 to 199 mg/dL (7.8 to 11.0 mmol/L). If the 2-hour blood glucose rises to 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol) or above, you have diabetes.

If you have prediabetes, you should do something about it. Studies have shown that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent through changes to their lifestyle, including modest weight loss (as little as 5 to 7 percent of your current weight) and increasing physical exercise. That is huge!

- Peggy

May 05, 2011