Could You Have Prediabetes?
Just as pre-cancer may be detected and removed before turning into cancer, discovery of diabetes in its earliest stages can help prevent further development of the condition.Blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes, are classified as prediabetes. Prediabetes is also called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. Evidence indicates that people with prediabetes can take steps to return their blood sugar levels to a normal range. This can prevent or delay complications that are linked to diabetes.
How Serious Is the Problem?If you have prediabetes, then you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions, like heart attack and stroke. Other long-term health problems can result if you do not have good control over your blood sugar levels. Complications related to type 2 diabetes include but are not limited to:
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage
- Limb amputation
- Cognitive decline
What Are the Risk Factors?Being overweight is a risk factor for prediabetes and diabetes. Obesity and type 2 diabetes make your body cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This allows blood sugar levels to rise over time and can result in long-term damage to your body.This is an especially important risk factor for Americans since many are overweight. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders may be at an even higher risk.
How Do You Detect Prediabetes?Prediabetes and diabetes can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. During a routine office visit, your doctor can order tests, such as:
- Fasting plasma glucose test —You will fast for at least 8 hours and have your blood glucose measured before eating. Your results may be read as follows:
- Normal: 60-99 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dL
- Diabetes: 126 mg/dL or above
- Oral glucose tolerance test —You will fast for at least 8 hours and have your blood glucose measured after the fast. Then you will drink a sugary drink and have your blood glucose measured 2 hours later. Results two hours after the drink are usually as follows:
- Normal: below 140 mg/dL
- Prediabetes: 140-199 mg/dL
- Diabetes: 200 mg/dL or above
- Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) — A blood test that does not require any fasting. The HbA1c is an indicator of your average blood sugar levels over the previous 2 to 3 months. Your results may be read as follows:
- Normal: below 5.7%
- Prediabetes: 5.7%-6.4%
- Diabetes: 6.5% or above