Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Over time, this can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, prediabetes symptoms are hard to spot, so many people have the condition without a proper diagnosis.
The CDC indicates that about 79 million American adults over the age of 20 have prediabetes. As the population ages, becomes increasingly overweight and increasingly inactive, the number of adults with symptoms of prediabetes continues to grow. The number of young people with this condition is also increasing. Common risk factors include:
Unfortunately, prediabetes symptoms are practically non-existent. The only way to know for sure that you have the condition is with a blood test. Three blood tests can be used to diagnose the condition. These include:
Every year, one out of 10 people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, and many are not even aware that they are at risk because of the lack of symptoms of prediabetes. If left untreated, diabetes can cause kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease, stroke and blindness. Even a slight increase in blood glucose levels in prediabetes can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Preventing prediabetes is done with lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet that is high in vegetables and fruits and low in fat and processed foods. Regular physical activity, averaging 30 minutes five days per week, is also important. Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight if you are overweight, can also help.
In addition to lifestyle changes, a few drugs have been proven to lower the risk of developing diabetes if you have prediabetes. These drugs do have side effects and their benefits wear off when you stop taking the drug, making lifestyle change the best option for tackling this problem.