An Opportunity

March 15, 2016

Most people have heard of the disease, diabetes. But have you heard of prediabetes, or perhaps been told you have prediabetes? A diagnosis of prediabetes offers an opportunity to stop the disease process in its tracks if you make certain lifestyle changes. Progressing from prediabetes to diabetes is not inevitable if you take active steps to halt the progression.

Pre-diabetes is difficult 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. The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening for asymptomatic people at age 45. However, for persons with certain risk factors ( family history, African American, Asian, Latino, or Native American, overweight, physically inactive, high blood pressure, low good cholesterol/high triglycerides/higher LDL, or had diabetes when pregnant) screening should occur at a younger age. Discuss your risk with your health care provider.

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.) NDEP promotes the idea that small steps can make a big difference for preventing or delaying diabetes and can help you live a longer, healthier life. Two key actions are needed 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.

 Prediabetes is a warning sign and an opportunity to prevent diabetes. With lifestyle changes of losing weight and increasing physical activity, (and sometimes the use of a medication) there is a very good chance that diabetes can be prevented. Check out risk assessments for diabetes on the web. (There are several.) Discuss your risk with your healthcare provider. Quinnipiack Valley Health District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) without internet access can call QVHD, 203 248-4528 for a copy of a risk assessment or more information on prediabetes.