Jayanthi Suppiah, MD, is an endocrinologist with Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: My doctor said I am a candidate for pre-diabetes. Does that mean I will eventually have diabetes?
Answer: Your physician is probably attempting to put you on the right track to avoiding diabetes, but it is still good to understand what is going on with your body.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to the effect of insulin. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is important in that it removes sugar from the blood stream and carries it to your cells to be used for energy. Insulin is released in relation to the glucose (blood sugar) produced by the body, controlling the amount of glucose in our blood and preventing hyper- or hypo-glycemia. If you are pre-diabetic, not enough insulin is produced naturally because your body does not recognize your high levels of blood sugar.
High levels of blood sugar are dangerous because, over time, they could result in heart disease, strokes and/or type 2 diabetes. Your physician may have given you a warning because you exhibit one or more of the risk factors for developing pre-diabetes, which include:
- Being overweight; lack of exercise
- A family history of type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Race. African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics and Native Americans have a higher prevalence of diabetes.
Each year, about 1 out of 10 patients with pre-diabetes develops type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, if left untreated, can lead to blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.
Now that you know you are pre-diabetic, there are certain things you can do to change your diagnosis. It is important to eat balanced meals that include vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and milks. It is important to have regular physical activity—even something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help. It is also very important to maintain a healthy weight. Your physician can talk to you about what weight zone you should be in.
If you are overweight and/or age 45-years-old or older, asked to be screened for pre-diabetes at your next medical visit. Remember, pre-diabetes doesn’t have to turn into type 2 diabetes. Healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent serious illness.