Prediabetes

Institutes & Services > Diabetes

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a serious health problem that increases the risk of having type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and stroke. Prediabetes means that your blood sugar is high, but not so high that that it is considered to be diabetes.

A blood sugar checked first thing in the morning before you have eaten is called a fasting blood sugar. A normal fasting blood sugar is less than 100. A fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125 is considered prediabetic or the doctor may say you have impaired fasting glucose.

Risk Factors for Prediabetes and Type II Diabetes:

  • Over 45 years of age
  • Overweight
  • Have a parent, sister, or brother with diabetes.
  • Race: African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American, or Pacific-Islander.
  • Gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
  • Physically active less than three times a week.

It is important to screen early for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, because early treatment can prevent serious problems that diabetes can cause, such as blindness, nerve damage or kidney damage.

Diagnosis

If you or your doctor suspect high blood sugars, your doctor may suggest a test called an oral glucose tolerance test. For this test you drink a sweet liquid and have blood drawn to check your blood sugar 2 hours after drinking the liquid. If your 2-hour blood sugar level is between 140 and 199, you are prediabetic. The doctor may say you have impaired glucose tolerance.

  • A lab value called a hemoglobin A1C is considered normal if it is less than 5.7%.
  • An A1C 5.7 to 6.4% is considered prediabetic.
  • A1C 6.5% or higher is considered to be diabetic.

Next Steps

Without lifestyle changes to improve health, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will end up with type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

Losing 5-7% (10-20 lbs.) of body weight and regular exercise can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by up to 58% in people with prediabetes. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, such as brisk walking, is important for overall health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in every 3 US adults has prediabetes. That's 86 million people.

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