Prediabetes is defined as the risk of developing diabetes and is defined by a blood sugar level between 100 and 125, an A1c between 5.7 and 6.4 or an oral glucose tolerance test of 140 to 200. Most often diet and an inactive lifestyle are the reasons people develop prediabetes.
In a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) trial showed that making changes to a person’s lifestyle decreases the progression of prediabetes to diabetes. For the participants of the study those who have a weight loss of at least 7% body weight, exercised 150 minutes per week and decreased their amount of calories they ate by 500 calories per day for six months reversed their prediabetes.
Often if patients are not able or willing to do any of the actions above, the patient may be started on Metformin. Many patients often realize that Metformin helps to reduce the risk of diabetes in future years.
Prediabetes is not a disease but is a risk factor for a longterm illness that, if left untreated, will cause many complications later. About one-third of people in the United States fall into this category and over half of the people over the age of 65 also fall in this range.
The NIH had a 10-year follow-up of diabetes incidence in the study participants and found that diabetes incidence in the 10 years since completing the study was reduced by 34% in the group of patients who made diet and lifestyle changes and only 18% in the group of patients that made no diet or lifestyle and opted to take Metformin.
I am a firm believer in prevention and encourage patients to make these changes. The main takeaway is that the closer your A1c is to 6.5, the more at risk you are of developing diabetes, and making diet, lifestyle changes and losing weight will significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes later.
Keisha Ellis is a certified family nurse practitioner for Eastern New Mexico Medical Group’s Quick Care. The advice offered in this column is that of the author.