If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
What is prediabetes?
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they usually have prediabetes. In people who have prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to say they have diabetes. Normal “fasting blood sugar” is between 4.0-7.0 mmol/L. Fasting blood sugar is your blood sugar level you before you have something to eat in the morning.
Fasting blood sugar between 6.1 and 6.9 mmol/L suggests prediabetes. Fasting blood sugar higher than 7.0 mmol/L is considered diabetes. People who have prediabetes have a high risk of eventually developing diabetes.
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS
Who is at risk?
You are at risk for prediabetes if any of the following are true:
- You are overweight or obese.
- You have a parent, brother or sister who has diabetes.
- You had diabetes during pregnancy (called gestational diabetes) or had a baby who weighed more than 4 kg (9 pounds) at birth.
- You belong to any of the following ethnic groups: African Canadian, Indigenous peoples , Latin American or Asian/Pacific Islander.
- You have high blood pressure.
- Your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level (“good” cholesterol) is low, or your triglyceride level is high.
- You are a woman who has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
DIAGNOSIS & TESTS
How can my healthcare provider tell if I have prediabetes?
Your healthcare provider can give you a blood test to check for prediabetes.
Can medicine help prevent or delay diabetes?
Diabetes medicines are not as effective as diet and exercise. However, your healthcare provider might prescribe medicine if you are at high risk for diabetes and have other medical problems, such as obesity, a high triglyceride level, a low HDL cholesterol level or high blood pressure.
If I have prediabetes, can I avoid developing diabetes?
You can lower your risk of developing diabetes by making changes in your lifestyle. If you are overweight, losing weight can help. Losing weight also helps lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Exercise is also important. Your exercise goal should be to complete 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) at each week. Ask your healthcare provider what exercise level is safe for you.
Follow a healthy diet. Eat foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, beans, poultry and other meats. Don’t eat a lot of processed foods or sweeteners such as sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, or molasses. Eat foods made with whole grains instead of white flour.
Your healthcare provider might refer you to a dietitian or diabetes educator to help you change your eating and exercise habits.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
- If I have prediabetes, will I get diabetes?
- What is the best step I can take to avoid getting diabetes?
- My father has diabetes. Should I be screened for prediabetes on a regular basis?
- I have diabetes. Should I have my children screened for prediabetes?
- I had gestational diabetes. Should I be screened for prediabetes regularly?
- Are there any foods I should eat that will help me to avoid prediabetes?
- Should I speak with a dietitian about changing what I eat?
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Impaired Glucose Tolerance and Impaired Fasting Glucose by Shobha S. Rao, M.D., Phillip Disraeli, M.D., and Tamara McGregor, M.D. (04/15/04, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040415/1961.html)