Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "pre-diabetes" -- blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are 54 million people in the United States who have pre-diabetes. Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during pre-diabetes.
Research has also shown that if you take action to manage your blood glucose when you have pre-diabetes, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from ever developing. Together with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the American Diabetes Association published a Position Statement on "The Prevention or Delay of Type 2 Diabetes" to help guide health care professionals in treating their patients with pre-diabetes.
There is a lot you can do yourself to know your risks for pre-diabetes and to take action to prevent diabetes if you have, or are at risk for, pre-diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has a wealth of resources for people with diabetes. People with pre-diabetes can expect to benefit from much of the same advice for good nutrition and physical activity. The links on this page are cornerstones of successful management of pre-diabetes.
How to Tell if You Have Pre-Diabetes
While diabetes and pre-diabetes occur in people of all ages and races, some groups have a higher risk for developing the disease than others. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population. This means they are also at increased risk for developing pre-diabetes.
There are two different tests your doctor can use to determine whether you have pre-diabetes: the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The blood glucose levels measured after these tests determine whether you have a normal metabolism, or whether you have pre-diabetes or diabetes. If your blood glucose level is abnormal following the FPG, you have impaired fasting glucose (IFG); if your blood glucose level is abnormal following the OGTT, you have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
How to Prevent Pre-Diabetes
Pre-diabetes is a serious medical condition that can be treated. The good news is that the recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program study conclusively showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity. They may even be able to return their blood glucose levels to the normal range.
While the DPP also showed that some medications may delay the development of diabetes, diet and exercise worked better. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, produced a 58% reduction in diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association is developing materials that will help people understand their risks for pre-diabetes and what they can do to halt the progression to diabetes and even to, "turn back the clock" In the meantime, ADA has a wealth of resources for people with diabetes or at risk for diabetes that can be of use to people interested in pre-diabetes.