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What Does It Mean to Be Diagnosed With Prediabetes?

Being told you have prediabetes can leave you worried and confused about the future. Read on to learn more about what it means to have prediabetes.

Should I be concerned about prediabetes?

Prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. If left unmanaged, prediabetes often worsens over time and progresses to type 2 diabetes. But if managed early, prediabetes is reversible. Prediabetes also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.1,2

Factors that increase your risk of prediabetes include:1,2

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Infrequent exercise
  • History of diabetes during pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and excess body fat around the waist)
  • Being Black, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander

Take this online quiz to see if you are at increased risk of prediabetes.3

What are the warning signs of prediabetes?

Most people with prediabetes can live for years without symptoms. In fact, 8 in 10 people with prediabetes do not know they have it.1,2

What tests are used to diagnose prediabetes?

The most common way to diagnose prediabetes is a blood test called the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test. Doctors may also order an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or an A1C test.2,4

The following results show prediabetes:2,4

  • A1C – 5.7 to 6.4 percent
  • FPG – 100 to 125 mg/dL
  • OGTT – 140 to 199 mg/dL

People at high risk should be screened regularly, even if their blood test does not show prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, experts recommend you have blood tests to check for type 2 diabetes at least once per year.4

Does prediabetes mean I am going to get type 2 diabetes?

Prediabetes is a warning sign. Without treatment, 7 out of 10 people with prediabetes will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.1,5,6

But you can make lifestyle changes to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Weight loss and increased physical activity are the 2 best ways to decrease your future risk of type 2 diabetes. Weight loss and increased physical activity may even reverse prediabetes.1,5,6

How can I prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes?

You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes, including:7,4

  • Healthy nutrition – Healthy food choices include eating more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Eat fewer packaged snacks, fast food, and sugary drinks.
  • Weight loss – Reducing your weight by 5 percent. For example, losing 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.
  • Physical activity – Experts recommend 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
  • Stop smoking – Not smoking can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Losing weight is challenging. To increase your odds of success, start with small changes and be consistent. Ask your doctor about working with a dietitian.

Exercise tips

Exercise reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and improves your overall health. Here are some tips to help make exercise work for you:8,9

  • Start slowly and increase your activity over time
  • Find activities you enjoy
  • Make exercise "appointments" with yourself and put them in your daily calendar
  • Include other people in your exercise plan
  • Explore online classes and resources
  • Include strength training in your exercise routine

Medication

For some people with prediabetes, doctors may recommend a medicine called metformin. Metformin can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 20 percent.6

Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control's National Diabetes Prevention Program provides tools to help you make positive changes for your health. With the support of this program, you could cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half.5,10

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