Prediabetes is an indicator of something worse – diabetes. But a diagnosis of prediabetes doesn’t mean diabetes is inevitable. In fact, it’s preventable. Family Medicine Physician Glenda Albizu, MD, explains how prediabetes develops and the steps you can take to prevent the disease before it spirals into diabetes.
Dr. Albizu says prediabetes – also known as an impaired glucose tolerance – is a consistent abnormal elevation in blood sugar. “The elevation isn’t high enough to be considered diabetes. However, people with a diagnosis of prediabetes are at an increased risk of developing diabetes,” Dr. Albizu said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 86 million American adults have prediabetes; that’s one out of three people. Moreover, nine out of 10 people don’t know they have prediabetes. Dr. Albizu says for a diagnosis of prediabetes, a person’s glycohemoglobin level range is 5.7 to 6.4. “It’s important to note that this level indicates the baseline blood sugar levels in the body over the previous two to three months,” Dr. Albizu said. Levels above 6.5 are categorized as diabetes.
When it comes to prediabetes, there are no symptoms. However, Dr. Albizu says early intervention and lifestyle changes are very important in decreasing the chances of becoming prediabetic. The CDC reports that without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. People who have diabetes are at a higher risk of serious health complications including blindness; heart disease; stroke; kidney failure; and amputation of toes, feet, or legs.
Dr. Albizu encourages patients to drink plenty of water; eat a well-balanced diet low in saturated fats and carbohydrates; practice good portion control when eating; and do 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise activity as tolerated. “These simple lifestyle choices aid in decreasing these numbers and slow the progression of diabetic disease,” Dr. Albizu said.
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