The following Family and Consumer Science article printed in the February 2020 UK Extension Adult Health Bulletin.
In Kentucky, one out of every three adults has prediabetes. This equals about 1.1 million individuals. What is even scarier is that out of the 1.1 million, approximately 852,000 people don’t even know it.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition that comes before diabetes. It means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough to be called diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious circumstance. It often leads to type 2 diabetes and raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. But prediabetes is also your window of opportunity to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes can be reversed!
It is always best to know your health numbers and risks. If you are at increased risk for prediabetes or diabetes, ask your doctor about getting tested at your next visit. Here are some questions to ask your Healthcare provider regarding prediabetes:
- If I have prediabetes, will I get diabetes?
- What is the best step I can take to avoid getting diabetes?
- My father has diabetes. Should I be screened for prediabetes on a regular basis?
- I have diabetes. Should I have my children screened for prediabetes?
- I had gestational diabetes. Should I be screened for prediabetes regularly?
- Are there any foods I should eat that will help me to avoid prediabetes?
- Should I speak with a dietitian about changing what I eat?
How is Prediabetes Diagnosed?
There are different ways doctors look at your blood sugar levels. The most common ways include:
- Checking your Hemoglobin A1C, which gives doctors an idea of your blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months. Healthcare providers like to see an A1C below 5.7 percent. The range for prediabetes is 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent and anything higher than that would indicate diabetes.
- A fasting blood sugar test. This is when physicians look at blood sugar after an overnight fast, which means you do not eat or drink for at least eight hours. The prediabetes range is 100 to 125mg/dl.
- A glucose tolerance test is a little more involved. Healthcare providers will have you not eat for an extended amount of time and then make you drink a beverage with a lot of sugar in it. They will then monitor your blood sugar every hour for a few hours. Two hours after drinking the beverage, a blood glucose level in the range of 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl indicates prediabetes.
Prediabetes is a common, but serious, disease. The primary treatment for prediabetes is the same as what you do to prevent diabetes: lose weight, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. These three things can help control your blood sugar levels and keep them from getting higher. Most importantly, get checked out! If you are at increased risk for diabetes, ask your doctor about being tested at your next visit.
Written by Natalie Jones, Kentucky Extension Specialist for Family Health. Edited by Alyssa Simms, Kentucky Extension Editor. References include American Academy of Family Physicians and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.