What Is Prediabetes?
What is the hemoglobin A1C Test?
The hemoglobin A1C test is a simple blood test that reflects the average blood sugar for the past 3 to 4 months. It can be used to diagnose prediabetes or diabetes. It can also be used to check if your diabetes is under control:
- Normal: 5.6% or less
- Prediabetes: 5.7 to 6.4%
- Diabetes: 6.5 % or above
How common is prediabetes?
The CDC estimates that bout 79 million people in the U.S. over age 20 have prediabetes.
Prediabetes should not be ignored. It signals the likely onset of a more serious condition, and it can begin the process of doing damage to your heart and possibly other organs such as the kidneys, eyes, and nervous system.
Are there lifestyle changes recommended for prediabetes?
Lifestyle changes can help many people with prediabetes to delay -- or even prevent -- the onset of full-blown diabetes. Changes that can help prevent diabetes include losing weight to bring total weight to a near-normal range, exercising daily, and eating balanced meals.
In a large research study called the Diabetes Prevention Program, the following lifestyle changes reduced the development of diabetes over three years by 58%. For people aged 60 or older, the reduction was an even greater 71%.
- Weight control.Obese and overweight people are at high risk of having prediabetes turn into diabetes. Losing some excess weight can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Even losing 5% to 10% of excess body weight can help.
- Exercise. Studies have shown that moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, such as cycling, swimming, or brisk walking, helps prevent -- and manage -- diabetes. Aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart rate up to your target heart rate, is ideal for losing weight and preventing prediabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise plan or increasing your activity level.
- Nutrition. Healthy meals that mix a balance of low-fat protein, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes. Calorie control, portion sizes (no super-sizing), and low-sugar, low-carbohydrate choices are key. Eating adequate fiber every day also helps.
Following these steps will also help reduce other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often present in people with diabetes and prediabetes.
Your doctor may also advise lowering any other heart disease risks you may have, such as smoking and high cholesterol levels.
You can control your prediabetes by creating a healthier lifestyle. If prediabetes does become type 2 diabetes, these lifestyle changes -- weight control, exercise, nutrition, and blood pressure control -- build the platform for managing diabetes for life. A healthy lifestyle may also help you prevent or delay the need to begin using medications such as insulin to control blood sugar levels.