Are you Pre-diabetic?

May 13, 2014

Most people have heard of the disease, diabetes. But have you heard of pre-diabetes, or perhaps been told you have pre-diabetes? Or have you ever wondered if you are at-risk for this disease?  This is important information to note because evidence shows that pre-diabetics can greatly cut their odds of getting the disease with early intervention.

Pre-diabetes is even hard to self-identify, as there may be no early warning signs. Pre-diabetes is defined as a blood sugar level that is higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. (You may have heard of the terms “impaired glucose tolerance” or “impaired fasting glucose.” These terms represent the same process as pre-diabetes.) The only way to know if you are pre-diabetic is to have your blood glucose level (“blood sugar”) measured. This is recommended for everyone over age 40, especially if you have any of the risk factors noted below.

The National Diabetes Education Program (ndep.nih.gov), wants you to know that diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful. Studies show that people at high risk for diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their weight, if they are overweight (that’s 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.) They promote the idea that small steps can make a big difference for preventing or delaying diabetes and can help you live a longer, healthier life. They suggest two key actions to accomplish this:  Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week and eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and reduce the number of calories you eat per day.

The American Diabetes Association and the National Diabetes Education Program use the same risk assessment that can help you to assess your personal risk for diabetes. Using a scoring system, it gives points for the risk factors associated with diabetes development. It considers your age, your sex, if you ever had diabetes when pregnant, family history, blood pressure status, activity level and your weight. The higher your score, the greater chance you have of developing diabetes. You can access the risk assessment at http://www.ndep.nih.gov/media/NDEP_Risk_test.pdf

The reason there is so much “excitement” about identifying pre-diabetes is that with lifestyle and/or medication interventions before the onset of clinical diabetes, there is a very good chance that diabetes can be prevented. If you are over age 40 and have never had a glucose test, you should, especially if you have other risk factors. For Quinnipiack Valley Health District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) without internet access, call QVHD, 203 248-4528 or request by email, dculligan@qvhd.org for a copy of the risk assessment and information on pre-diabetes.