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Five things to know about prediabetes

Aug 15, 2019

St. Joseph’s/Candler Center for Diabetes Management offers a year-long program for those at risk of developing diabetes

More than 75 million American adults have a health condition – and they don’t even realize it. It’s prediabetes, and if left untreated, can lead to more serious complications, most commonly Type 2 diabetes.

In total, approximately 84 million Americans have prediabetes whether they know it or not – that’s more than one out of every three people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news: a simple blood sugar test can determine if you have prediabetes.

Emily ParksEven better news: prediabetes can be reversed.

For a better understanding of prediabetes, here are five things you should know about the condition.

1. What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, explains Emily Parks, BS ACSM-CEP, St. Joseph’s/Candler Manager for Cardiopulmonary Rehab and Center for Diabetes Management. Prediabetes puts a patient at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (which is not reversible), heart disease and stroke.

Related Article: Eight misconceptions about diabetes

2. How do you test for prediabetes?

Your physician may choose among several tests to learn your blood sugar levels. The two most common are:

  • The A1C test, which measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months
  • Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG), which measures blood glucose levels at least eight hours after you last ate or drank anything.

The normal, healthy result for an A1C test is less than 5.7 percent. The normal result for a FPG is less than 100 mg/dl. A person is considered prediabetic with an A1C between 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent and/or a FPG of 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl. Anything higher is considered Type 2 diabetes.

As mentioned, most people with prediabetes don’t realize they have the condition. That’s why it’s important to have annual wellness visits with a primary care physician to have your blood glucose level checked routinely.

Related Article: Are you seeing a healthcare provider annually?

3. What causes prediabetes?

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy, Parks says. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin, and therefore, the pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually the pancreas can’t keep up and blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes, Parks says, and if left untreated, Type 2 diabetes down the road.

4. What risk factors put me at risk for getting prediabetes?

Most often, there are no clear signs or symptoms of prediabetes. It often goes undetected until more serious health problems arise, such as Type 2 diabetes. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors for prediabetes and talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested, Parks says. Risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years old or older
  • Having a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than three times a week
  • Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome

Race and ethnicity also are factors, Parks says. African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and some Asian-Americans are at higher risk of developing prediabetes.

Related Article: Ten superfoods people with diabetes should incorporate in their diet

5. How do you treat and prevent prediabetes

Treating prediabetes and preventing the condition altogether have many of the same recommendations. The goal of someone with prediabetes should be to reverse the condition or at least manage it to prevent Type 2 diabetes. Those with prediabetes and those at risk, should:

  • Eat healthy foods, focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Be more active, aiming for at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity (that’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week)
  • Lose excess weight; even losing five to seven percent of your body weight – say 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person – can impact your blood sugar
  • Stop smoking
  • Take medications as needed, when prescribed by your physician

Related Article: Have diabetes? You better put that cigarette down.

How the St. Joseph’s/Candler Center for Diabetes Management can help

St. Joseph’s/Candler offers a comprehensive, year-long program at the Center for Diabetes Management for people at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Participants learn how to eat healthy, add physical activity to their routine, manage stress, stay motivated and solve problems that can get in the way of healthy changes.

Participation is voluntary, but strongly encouraged, Parks says. The health benefits include:

  • CDC approved curriculum with lessons, handouts and other resources to help you make healthy changes.
  • A lifestyle coach, specially trained to lead the program, to help you learn new skills, encourage you to set and meet goals and keep you motivated. The coach will also facilitate discussions and help make the program fun and engaging.
  • A support group of people with similar goals and challenges. Together, you can share ideas, celebrate successes and work to overcome obstacles.
  • Candler Wellness Center membership throughout the program duration.
  • Biometrics and A1C at the beginning of the program, then once every six months.

St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Center for Diabetes Management was recently recognized for its diabetes prevention program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This designation is reserved for programs that have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets all the standards of CDC recognition.

SJ/C’s program is 100 percent covered for St. Joseph’s/Candler co-workers and Chatham County employees. It’s also offered to the public for an out-of-pocket cost.

To learn more about the program or enroll, please contact the St. Joseph’s/Candler Center for Diabetes Management at 912-819-6146.

Quiz: What do you know about prediabetes?

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