Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "prediabetes" — blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and a person’s glucose could have been elevated for years by the time they are diagnosed. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 86 million Americans –more than one out of three– have prediabetes.

Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t even know they have it!1  This is especially unfortunate because without lifestyle changes, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.2  What’s more, prediabetes correlates with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.3

Learn the steps you can take to prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes from our team of experts by taking our Diabetes Prevention Class. Click here to learn more.

These tests are used to determine whether a person has prediabetes:

  • The fasting blood glucose test measures blood glucose after a period of fasting, usually in the morning. If the glucose is between 100 and 125, the diagnosis is impaired fasting glucose (IFG), or prediabetes.
  • The oral glucose tolerance (OGT) test measures the blood glucose level during fasting and again two hours after the ingestion of a glucose drink.  If the fasting blood glucose is in the normal range but the glucose level is high after the sugary drink, the diagnosis is impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), or prediabetes.
  • The A1C test is first used to diagnose both prediabetes and type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Once a person has been diagnosed, their doctor will periodically prescribe an A1C test to determine how well they are managing their diabetes. This blood test provides information about a person’s average blood glucose levels over the three months just prior to testing. An A1C test result is reported as a percentage: A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. Anything above that number is an indication that blood glucose has been elevated over time. 5.7-6.4 is considered to be prediabetes. 6.5 and above indicates diabetes.

The numbers below are indicative of prediabetes:

  • An A1C of 5.7% – 6.4%
  • Fasting blood glucose of 100 – 125 mg/dl
  • An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) 2-hour blood glucose or a random blood glucose of 140 mg/dl – 199 mg/dl

According to an important national clinical trial known as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the risk factors for prediabetes are the same as those for diabetes:

  • Weight: The more overweight you are, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight for you would be.
  • Waist size: The circumference of your waist may be a risk factor for metabolic disease or insulin resistance. A waist measurement of 40 inches or more in men and 35 inches or more in women suggests an increased risk.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Regular exercise reduces your chances of developing diabetes. Physical activity burns glucose as energy, makes cells more sensitive to insulin, and helps maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Age: The risk of developing prediabetes rises as you get older, especially after age 45.
  • Family history: The risk of diabetes increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • Race: Due to genetics, African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy have an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome: Women who have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome have a greater risk of developing diabetes.
  • Sleep issues: Research has linked sleep issues such as obstructive sleep apnea with insulin resistance. People who work the night shift are also thought to be at higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • High blood pressure
  • Low levels of HDL, or the "good," cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease and its warning signs: including high blood pressure, decreased HDL cholesterol, and increased ldl cholesterol and triglycerides.4

Research shows that you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%5 if you take these preventive measures:

  • Losing 7% of your body weight: Even a 10-15 pound weight loss can make a big difference. In addition to helping reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, losing weight lowers your risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.6
  • Eating wisely: For a fresh approach to your diet, choose more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Substitute quinoa, barley, brown rice or whole wheat pasta for white rice or pasta. Buy leaner meats, such as chicken, turkey, and leaner cuts of beef or pork. Save money – and calories – by passing on the soda, sweets, cookies, chips, and other “junk foods.” When you go out to dinner, avoid fried foods and ask for sauces and dressings on the side. Instead of caloric sides such as fries or potato salad, ask if you can substitute fruit, salad, veggies or sliced tomatoes.
  • Exercising moderately 30 minutes a day, five days a week: The Marin General Hospital Center for Integrative Health & Wellness offers individual fitness counseling. This is a great way to jumpstart transition to long-term, healthy behaviors. Click here to learn more.
  • Stress management techniques that could include: Yoga, meditation, massage, and acupuncture.

Sources:

  1. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/prediabetes-infographic.pdf
  2. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html
  3. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
  4. NIH: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/about-niddk/research-areas/diabetes/diabetes-prevention-program-dpp/Pages/default.aspx
  5. ADA: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis/
  6. ADA: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis/