Lower your Risk of Pre-Diabetes Progression

If you have pre-diabetes, you may assume that someday you will end up with diabetes.  But that may not necessarily be true.  A recent study from the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine shows that people with pre-diabetes may be able to prevent their condition from progressing to full diabetes by controlling their glucose levels.

Diabetes is a condition that results when sugar or glucose builds up in the blood.  This may be because the body is not able to produce enough glucose, or because the glucose that is made is not effective.  Pre-diabetes is a condition that results when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but are not high enough to be diabetes.

Anyone can develop diabetes, but some people are at higher risk than others. In general, older people and people who are African American, Latino, Native American, or Asian American/Pacific Islander are more likely to develop diabetes than others.  These groups are also at increased risk for pre-diabetes.  Other risk factors include:

  • Being overweight and over age 45
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds

If you are at risk for diabetes or pre-diabetes, your doctor may want to do a blood test to check your blood sugar levels.  There are three tests your doctor may chose to do:

  • Fasting Blood Glucose (FPG) – This test requires you to fast (not eat) overnight and have the test done before eating in the morning.  A normal level is below 100 mg/dl. Pre-diabetes shows between 100 and 125 mg/dl.  Above 126 mg/dl indicates diabetes.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) – This test also requires fasting overnight.  Blood is drawn before eating and again two hours after drinking a glucose-rich drink.  Normal is below 140 mg/dl 2 hours after the drink.  Pre-diabetes reads between 140 and 199 mg/dl.  200 mg/dl or higher indicates diabetes.
  • A1C – This blood test provides an average of your blood sugar levels over the past 3 to 4 months.  An A1C level below 5.6% is normal.  Between 5.7% and 6.4% shows pre-diabetes. An A1C of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association has a simple diabetes risk test that you can take online to help determine your risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Scientists know that diabetes can damage many systems throughout your body.  Recent research indicates some long-term damage to the heart and circulatory system may also take place during pre-diabetes.  But based on the results of the Colorado study, it may be possible to limit pre-diabetes complications and prevent pre-diabetes from progressing to full diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels.  Leigh Perreault, MD, a researcher with the CU School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health said, “Physicians should seek to restore normal glucose regulation in their patients with pre-diabetes.”

Previous treatments often focused on holding pre-diabetes at existing levels.  This research shows the importance of working to return blood glucose levels to a normal range rather than working to hold them in the pre-diabetic range.  The study shows that people with pre-diabetes whose blood sugar levels returned to normal are 56% less likely to have full diabetes 10 years later.   The study also shows that getting blood glucose back into a normal range helps patients avoid developing diabetes even if the lower blood glucose levels were temporary.

"Interventions that simply maintain pre-diabetes, even where overt diabetes is avoided short-term, are not enough as the long-term risk remains," Perreault said. "Strategies and follow-up should focus on achieving normal glucose regulation, by whatever means and however transient, to ensure the greatest reduction in diabetes risk for those with pre-diabetes."

 Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for Empowher.com.


Science Daily. Regulating Glucose Can prevent Onset of Type 2 Diabetes: Those With Pre-Diabetes Can Avoid Progressing to Diabetes. Web. July 2, 2012.


American Diabetes Association. Pre-Diabetes FAQ. Web. July 2, 2012.


American Diabetes Association. How to Tell if You Have Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes. Web. July 2, 2012.


American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Risk Test. Web. July 2, 2012.


Related Links:

The Test Indicating Pre-diabetes - Video


What Does It Really Mean to Have Pre-Diabetes?


Additional Resources About Diabetes


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