Originally Published: June 18, 2011 9:55 p.m.
Diabetes is a growing problem in America. An estimated 25.8 million people - nearly 8.3 percent of the population - have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In an effort to slow the increase, doctors have recently begun to identify individuals at risk for diabetes before they develop the disease. They call it prediabetes. The diagnosis gives individuals a chance to delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert food into energy necessary for daily life. Diabetes is also a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels rise above normal, but have not yet reached the diabetic range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 57 million Americans have prediabetes. And if they don't take steps to control their risks, studies show that most of those people will develop diabetes within 10 years.
How to tell if you have prediabetes
Prediabetes develops silently - it has no obvious signs or symptoms. But certain risk factors may make you more susceptible. If you are 45 years old or older, talk to your doctor about getting tested - particularly if you are overweight. You may also want to consider getting tested if you are younger than age 45 and have any of the following risk factors:
Family history of diabetes.
Being overweight or obese.
Low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.
High blood pressure.
History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
African-American, Latino, Native American or Asian-American ethnic origin.
To determine whether you have prediabetes, doctors may conduct the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Both tests require that you fast overnight. The FPG measures your blood glucose level before you eat anything in the morning. A level between 100 mg/dL and 126 mg/dL indicates impaired fasting glucose, or prediabetes. The OGTT takes the same measurement, then checks the level again two hours after drinking a glucose-rich drink. Results between 140 mg/dL and 200 mg/dL suggest impaired glucose tolerance, another name for prediabetes.