New data suggests that 54 million Americans may be on track to develop diabetes within the next 10 years.
They have prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. A special diabetes report in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource covers prediabetes and what can be done to prevent it from becoming type 2 diabetes, a potentially debilitating and life-threatening disease.
Overlooking prediabetes is easy, because often there are no symptoms. And blood tests for prediabetes aren't given routinely.
People age 45 and older who have never been tested for diabetes should discuss prediabetes screening with a physician. A blood glucose test will likely be recommended for people who have any of these risk factors:
- A family history of diabetes
- A body mass index of 25 or higher
- Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and high triglycerides, another blood fat
- High blood pressure
- A history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- An ethnicity that is disproportionately affected by diabetes, including African-American, American Indian, Hispanic-American/Latino and Asian-American/Pacific Islander.
For those who have prediabetes, making healthy lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes. One large research study found that diet and exercise that resulted in a 5 percent to 7 percent weight loss could lower the risk of diabetes in high-risk individuals by 58 percent. For example, someone who weighs 200 pounds could potentially prevent diabetes by losing just 10 to 15 pounds.