A looming danger: About 1 in 3 U.S. adults are pre-diabetic, but only about 11% say they have received such a diagnosis

Before Type 2 diabetes develops, most people experience what is called prediabetes, where the blood sugar levels are above normal, but below diabetic, Dr. Philip A. Kern, University of Kentucky professor and director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, writes in a UK news release.

In America, approximately one in three adults are pre-diabetic, but only around 11 percent are aware of that condition, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Kentucky, 289,000 adults, or almost 9 percent, reported that they had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, according to the 2015 Kentucky Diabetes Report.

“Without intervention, there is a high likelihood that prediabetes will progress to diabetes within three to 10 years,” Kern writes. “People with prediabetes are also at 50 percent higher risk for heart disease and stroke.”

When a person is prediabetic, many of the diabetic disease processes, like nerve damage, eye problems and heart disease, begin in the body even though the person doesn’t have diabetes.

And because prediabetes often has no symptoms and can affect people of all ages, Kern writes, it is important to know your blood sugar levels, especially if you have one of the following risk factors: overweight or obese, fat distributed around the abdomen, history of gestational diabetes, family history of diabetes, symptoms of diabetes (increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision), or history of elevated blood sugar levels.

Kern suggests the following lifestyle changes to help prevent the progression of prediabetes to diabetes; he notes that these changes will also help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and high blood pressure:

  • Weight loss: Losing just 10 to 20 pounds can reduce the liklihood of prediabetes progressing to diabetes.
  • Healthy diet: Choose low fat, low calorie and high fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Exercise: Incorporate 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
  • Sleep: Research has found that getting at least six hours of sleep each night can help reduce insulin resistance. He also notes that sleep apnea can worsen prediabetes.
  • Medications: Some diabetes medications are prescribed to prediabetics to prevent the condition from progressing.

If you’re interested in learning about opportunities to participate in research about prediabetes at UK, visit ukclinicalresearch.com or call (859) 323-2737.

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