Take the Prediabetes Quiz
Although the term “prediabetes” has existed for about 15 years,
many people don’t know what it is and, more importantly, how to stop it.
Having prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than
normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Without weight
loss and moderate physical activity, 10 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes
will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
You may have prediabetes and be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are 45 or older
- Are overweight
- Are physically active fewer than three times per week
- Had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or gave birth to a baby
that weighed more than 9 pounds
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
The problem with diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body turns food into energy.
Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar and released into your
bloodstream. Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which lets
blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin
or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there
isn’t enough insulin or cells
stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which can cause serious
health problems over time.
Ninety-five percent of people with the disease have Type 2 diabetes. It
can lead to:
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Loss of toes, feet or legs
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually don’t appear until the disease
is advanced. They include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Unexpected weight loss
In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported
diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. But a study
published in early 2017 indicated diabetes could be the third leading
cause of death. It was funded by the National Institute on Aging at the
National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Health Statistics.
What can you do about it?
You don’t have to make big changes to prevent or delay diabetes.
- Cut back on calories and saturated fat.
- If you’re overweight, losing 7 percent of your total weight can help
a lot. That’s 15 pounds for a person who weighs 200 pounds.
- Increase your daily physical activity.
“An overwhelming amount of research shows that after smoking cessation
and limiting alcohol consumption, the next biggest thing people can do
to improve their health, including their risk for type 2 diabetes, is
getting more physical activity,” said Great River Medical Center
diabetes adviser David Carlson, MD, Family Medicine. “I think physical
activity trumps many medicines we can prescribe.”
Exercising doesn’t mean you have to work out at a gym. Minutes of
exercise can be accumulated throughout the day. Begin by parking further
from work or stores, and using the stairs instead of the elevator.
Program helps reduce diabetes risk
The Des Moines County Public Health Department offers a 16-week program
for people at risk for diabetes. The National Diabetes Prevention Program provides:
- Skills needed to lose weight, be more physically active and manage stress
- A trained lifestyle coach for guidance and encouragement
- On-staff diabetes educator
- Support from other participants with the same goals
“In a CDC study of people at high risk for diabetes, medications
reduced progression of prediabetes to diabetes in about 30 percent of
participants,” said Great River Medical Center diabetes adviser
David Carlson, M.D., Family Medicine. “Intensive education with
lifestyle change reduced progression to diabetes in about 60 percent of
participants. There’s no medicine that can come close to that.”
Criteria for the National Diabetes Prevention Program include:
- High BMI
- High blood sugar
- Results from a detailed diabetes risk test
Many health insurance providers cover diabetes education. Potential participants
who do not have coverage may apply for financial assistance.
To learn more about the National Diabetes Prevention Program, please call