Should You Be Tested For Pre-Diabetes?

At least 16 million Americans 40 to 74 years of age (15.6% of the population) have pre-diabetes, a state that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years, as well as an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

How do I know if I have pre-diabetes?
Doctors can use either the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to detect pre-diabetes. Both require a person to fast overnight.

Why do I need to know if I have pre-diabetes?
If you have pre-diabetes, you can and should do something about it. Studies have shown that people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent through changes to their lifestyle that include modest weight loss and regular exercise. For some people with pre-diabetes, intervening early can actually turn back the clock and return elevated blood glucose levels to the normal range.

What is the treatment for pre-diabetes?
Treatment consists of losing a modest amount of weight (5-10% of total body weight) through diet and moderate exercise, such as walking, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

Who should get tested for pre-diabetes?
If you are overweight and age 45 or older, you should be tested. If your weight is normal and you're over age 45, you should ask your doctor if testing is appropriate.

Doctors may consider tests for overweight adults younger than 45 if they have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • high blood pressure
  • low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • family history of diabetes
  • history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • belonging to an ethnic or minority group at high risk for diabetes (including blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders).

    How often should I be tested?
    If your blood glucose levels are in the normal range, it is reasonable to be retested every 3 years. If you have pre-diabetes, you should be tested for type 2 diabetes every 1-2 years after your diagnosis.

    Could I have pre-diabetes and not know it?
    Absolutely. People with pre-diabetes don't often have symptoms. In fact, millions of people have diabetes and don't know it because symptoms develop do gradually people often don't recognize them. Symptoms include unusual thirst, a frequent desire to urinate, blurred vision, or a feeling of being tired most of the time for no apparent reason.

    (Source: American Diabetes Association)

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