About 79 million Americans have prediabetes.
That means they have blood sugar that’s higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 — at least not yet. One long-term study found that 11 percent of people with prediabetes develop the full-blown disease each year during the average three years of follow-up, reports the American Diabetes Association. Other research shows that without intervention, prediabetes probably will become type 2 in 10 years or less.
That progression is not inevitable: Last year, scientists in Colorado found that people with prediabetes who lowered their blood sugar to normal levels — even briefly — were 56 percent less likely to reach type 2 levels.
If you have prediabetes, here are four steps to help prevent or delay a diabetes diagnosis:
Lose 7 percent of your body weight. That equates to about 15 pounds if the scale reads 200. Dropping that small percentage, coupled with regular moderate physical activity, has been shown to lower the risk of developing type 2 by close to 60 percent.
Exercise 30 minutes five days a week. Whether you do the 30 minutes in one shot or in 10-minute sessions, the benefit is the same. Choose moderate-level exercises, such as brisk walking, playing tennis or lifting weights. Activities such as scrubbing floors works, too. If you can talk but not sing during the activity, you’re working out at a moderate intensity.
Ask about medications. In some cases, prediabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent. Your doctor may prescribe medication to control your glucose levels and keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
Know your numbers. To see if your prediabetes is improving, have your blood sugar checked regularly. A fasting blood sugar of 100 to 125 mg/dl suggests prediabetes; 126 mg/dl or above is diabetes; and below 100 is normal. Other tests, including glucose tolerance and A1C, also are used to monitor blood sugar.
The Doctors is an award-winning TV show; check local listings.The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.