Diabetes Health

Diabetes Prevention: Aggressively Treat Prediabetes

About 70 percent of people with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. But researchers say that making lifestyle changes and/or taking medication can do a lot to stop that progression.

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In a recent study, people with prediabetes who were able to lower their blood sugar to normal levels cut their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than half.

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. About 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, the CDC says. About 11 percent of these people go on to develop type 2 diabetes each year.

Tracking changes

Researchers at the University of Colorado-Denver looked at data on 3,000 people with diabetes who were part of the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. People in that trial were randomly assigned to one of three groups: one group was asked to make lifestyle changes; a second group was given the drug metformin, which lowers blood sugar; and the third group was given an inactive placebo. The goal of the program was for participants to reduce their blood sugar levels to a normal range.

For the current study, published in The Lancet, researchers looked at how the study participants had fared over the six years after the original trial. They found that people who lowered their blood sugar to normal - no matter how they accomplished it or for how long - had a 56 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Early treatment best

Diabetes expert Joel Zonszein, M.D., at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says that the study supports the idea that treating prediabetes early was better for people in the long term.

"My recommendation for my patients with early diabetes is therapeutic lifestyle changes plus aggressive anti-diabetic agents, [often in combination]," Dr. Zonszein says.

Early and aggressive glucose-lowering not only prevents complications, but also may preserve insulin function, thus requiring fewer medications later, he says.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Diabetes Association - Prediabetes

American Diabetes Association - What to Do if You Have Prediabetes

National Diabetes information Clearinghouse - Introduction to Diabetes

August 2012

A Call to Action

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes. That means they have blood-glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.

But if you have prediabetes, you may not know it. Most people with prediabetes don't have symptoms. The only way to know for sure is to have your blood sugar tested after fasting. Here's the breakdown on what the numbers mean:

  • You have prediabetes if you have a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL.

  • You have diabetes if you have a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or greater.

If you have prediabetes, take action by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with prediabetes reduce their weight by 5 to 10 percent and do moderate-intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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