Prediabetes

Last Updated: June 30, 2019

Definition - What does Prediabetes mean?

Prediabetes is a condition in which an individual presents with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. Prediabetes is often caused by the same insulin resistance or dysfunction as diabetes. The diagnosis is a warning that the body's ability to manage glucose levels is malfunctioning. Over time, as these irregularities in glucose processing worsen, diabetes can develop.

Prediabetes is most often diagnosed through the use of a fasting blood glucose test. This test is often offered as part of a preventative medicine check up or when symptoms or other indications warrant its use.

A person whose fasting plasma blood glucose level is above or equal to 126 mg/dl on two occasions is considered to be diabetic. Those whose fasting blood glucose level is between 100 and 125 mg/dl are considered to be prediabetic. However, most doctors rely on a long term blood glucose measure called A1C, that tests glucose level averages over several months, before making a final diagnosis.

Alternatively, a person may be evaluated for prediabetes using an oral glucose tolerance test. This test measures an individual's blood glucose level two hours after introduction of a measured amount of glucose. Individuals whose blood glucose levels are between 140 and 199 mg/dl at the two hour point are considered to have impaired glucose tolerance. This is another way of saying prediabetic. However, there can be many causes for temporary glucose spikes so this test should only be used as an indicator that further monitoring is needed.

Prediabetes is sometimes written in hyphenated form as "pre-diabetes." The condition is also known by medical professionals as intermediate hyperglycaemia.

WorkplaceTesting explains Prediabetes

It is estimated that by the year 2040, more than 470 million people will have the symptoms of prediabetes. Individuals diagnosed with prediabetes are considered at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to the World Health Organization, diabetes mellitus is a leading cause of death and disability among people all over the world.

However, in many cases it is possible to prevent or slow the development of diabetes through lifestyle changes or other interventions. Risk factors for developing prediabetes and diabetes are similar. Individuals who are over the age of 45, have a sedentary lifestyle, or are overweight are at heighten risk for developing blood glucose impairments. Certain ethnic groups are at greater risk for developing diabetes, as are those with a family history of the disease. High blood pressure, vascular disease and high cholesterol are also early indicators.

Individuals with these risk factors should discuss prediabetes screening with their doctor.

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