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What is prediabetes and who is at risk?

Prediabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but haven’t reached the level required for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Since there are no symptoms with prediabetes, it is important to get tested. There are risk factors that may make you more likely to have prediabetes and these are the same risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • being overweight
  • increased waist circumference
  • sedentary lifestyle (i.e. inactivity)
  • age
  • family history
  • ethnicity
  • high blood pressure
  • abnormal blood fats or cholesterol

Prediabetes can be part of a condition called 'metabolic syndrome' where you may have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or excess fat around the waist. If you have any of these other risk factors, you should ask your doctor about testing your blood glucose. And if you are over 40 years of age, testing your blood glucose should be part of your regular checkup by your doctor.

Is it possible to prevent diabetes if you have prediabetes?

Almost everyone with type 2 diabetes started off with prediabetes. However, not all people with prediabetes will advance to develop type 2 diabetes.

In some cases, healthy lifestyle changes (healthy eating and increased physical activity) can effectively keep blood glucose levels within normal targets and avoid the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes healthy eating
starting to exercise

If lifestyle changes don't work, then what?

For many people, lifestyle changes alone may not be able to maintain target blood glucose levels. In these cases, you may also need to take medications, such as metformin or acarbose. Other medications may also be prescribed to help control cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Medications can be an effective tool in helping to manage prediabetes. However, always remember that they need to be combined with lifestyle changes to obtain and maintain desired results.

Talk to your diabetes healthcare team about the strategies that will work best for you. Also discuss what ongoing screening should be maintained to keep good track of your condition.

Articles about Prediabetes