Prediabetes - what it is and how you can address it
You may have heard in the media that type 2 diabetes has tripled over the last 20 to 30 years. However it’s only in the past couple of years that the term “Prediabetes” has been officially recognised.
You may also hear this condition being described as IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) which is higher than normal blood sugar after a meal or IFG (impaired Fasting Glucose) which is a higher than normal blood sugar in the morning before eating.
Prediabetes is effectively a pre-diagnosis of diabetes when your blood sugar level is higher than it should be but not yet high enough to be considered to be within the diabetes range.
Not only will between 10% to 20% of those with prediabetes go on to develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years, the risk of heart disease is doubled.
What causes prediabetes and how is it identified?
If you are overweight, especially if you carry weight centrally around your abdomen, the extra fat cells is associated with the body becoming more insulin resistant – this means either that your body doesn’t make enough insulin or that it doesn’t use it well.
It is possible to see that this has happened through a fasting blood test (taken 10 to 12 hours after you last ate)
- Ideally your levels should be in the low 5 mmol/l
- If they measure 6-7 mmol/l you are in “Prediabetes”.
- At 7 mmol/l and over you will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes
Increasingly a blood test called glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) is now being used to help classify patients with prediabetes or diabetes. This test is the main long-term marker for blood sugar control and assesses blood sugar levels over the preceding three months. It's easier to measure as it's not dependent on whether or not you have fasted. A HbA1c between 42 and 47 mmol/mol (6.0-6.4%) is within the prediabetes range and 6.5% or greater is diagnostic of diabetes.
Take control if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes
Fortunately around 80% of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by actively pursuing a more healthy lifestyle firstly by losing weight and then by continuing to eat a healthy diet which is low in salt, sugar and fat and rich in fruit and vegetables.
This should be complemented by being more physically active and taking moderate exercise such as walking 30 minutes per day for 5 days a week.
I hope you have found this useful
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