Healthy Tips

August 24, 2017

Prediabetes: Make a Right Turn Toward Prevention

Prediabetes: Make a Right Turn Toward Prevention

More than one out of three American adults – 86 million people – have prediabetes. Ninety percent of people with prediabetes don’t even know they have it.

When you consider those facts and numbers, can there be a bright side to being diagnosed with prediabetes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is.

If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you have a chance to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Think of it like you do road signs. Imagine you are driving on the road "prediabetes." The road forks, and you see two signs. The sign to the left says "Type 2 Diabetes Ahead." The sign to the right says "Prevention Ahead."

Here’s how to make the right turn toward prevention.

First, the "pre' in prediabetes is a warning that you already have a serious health condition. It means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal ... but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Prediabetes often goes undetected, because there are no clear symptoms. This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor about having your blood sugar tested if you have any of the risk factors for prediabetes, which include:

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than 3 times a week
  • Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds

Race and ethnicity are also a factor: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.

Even though living with prediabetes can be hard, it is even harder to live with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects every major organ in the body. People with diabetes often develop major complications such as kidney failure and blindness. Nerve damage can lead to amputation of a toe, foot or leg.

If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight. That’s10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Questions to ask your doctor include:

  • If I have prediabetes, will I get diabetes?
  • What is the best step I can take to avoid getting diabetes?
  • Are there any foods I should eat that will help me to avoid prediabetes?
  • Should I talk with a dietitian about changing what I eat?

If you don't have a doctor and would like help finding one, call Healthcare Coordination to make an appointment.

If you want to read books about prediabetes or diabetes, visit the Health Information Center located in the main lobby of the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Membership to the Health Information Center is free, and members can check out books for two weeks.

For reliable information on allergies or any health related topic contact the Health Information Center. Staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists, the Health Information Center offers an extensive health library, digital and print resources, walk-in assistance, and help with research on specific health conditions – all free of charge and available to the public.

This healthy tip is provided by the Health Information Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.