November 6, 2019

Prediabetes: Beginning The Discussion

General Health

Several years ago, I got a call from my friend. She had just been told that she was pre-diabetic and had been given a list of recommendations from her primary care provider. Since my friend’s dad had been diagnosed with diabetes, she knew what was in store and she was overwhelmed.

What she didn’t realize is that Prediabetes is NOT Diabetes…yet. After talking with her more, she began to understand that the diagnosis meant she could make changes now and delay or even avoid living with Type 2 Diabetes altogether. So, she did.

Today, my friend is no longer considered pre-diabetic. She successfully turned her blood glucose levels around and has made small but significant lifestyle changes that support healthier blood sugar levels.

According to the CDC, over 84.1 million adults in the US (that’s over 30% of adults) have Prediabetes. The good news is that when Prediabetes is caught early, you can make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. The bad news is that out of those 84.1 million people, only 10% know they have it. That means that more than 75 million adults in the US have Prediabetes and have no idea. We need to change that!

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugar level (also called blood glucose level) is above normal but not so high that a diagnosis of diabetes can be made. Having above normal blood sugar levels increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

How do you get diagnosed?

Your primary care provider may want to test your blood sugar levels if you have any of these risk factors:

  • You are overweight
  • You are 45 years old or older
  • You have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • You are physically active less than 3 times a week
  • You have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or you gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds

There are several tests available to measure your blood sugar levels. Your provider will determine which test is best for your situation.

What happens when you have Prediabetes?

When you are diagnosed with Prediabetes, your primary care provider will help you navigate your next steps. Often, plans include eating healthier, being more active and reducing your body weight by 5-7%. Your plan will be specific to your situation and lifestyle.

Why are so many people undiagnosed?

On an individual level, most people live with undiagnosed Prediabetes because there are no clear symptoms. There are no obvious red flags that will raise concerns and prompt a visit to a primary care provider. That’s why your annual visit is so important. When you see your primary care provider each year, your provider is able to track your numbers over time and monitor risk factors. Even when you have no symptoms, your provider may want to do a screening test.

On a community level, Prediabetes is not as well-known as other illnesses. We are trying to change that! By getting the word out about Prediabetes, we hope to reinforce the importance of knowing your numbers- your blood pressure, your BMI, and your blood glucose levels. With silent conditions like Prediabetes, annual visits to your primary care provider are the best way to be screened for the condition.

Where can I learn more?

We have several opportunities available at Fort HealthCare designed to help you learn about Prediabetes and successfully follow your treatment plan.

  • Work with our Diabetes Education Team. We are here to help you navigate through and manage your new lifestyle. For more details, call (920) 568-5247or visit /clinic/diabetes-education/
  • Come to our monthly education and support group.

  • Participate in our new monthly Prediabetes Education series starting in January 2020. Stay tuned for more details!
  • Join us for World Diabetes Day on November 14, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. We will discuss Prediabetes in more detail and talk about the treatment and resources available to you in Jefferson County. Get more information at com/news/fort-healthcare-hosting-free-community-presentation-about-prediabetes/

Help us prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Jefferson County by spreading the word. As more people understand the importance of diagnosing Prediabetes early, we can start to make a difference.