Living Well

Prediabetes: A Life-Saving Wake Up Call

Last updated: Jun 19, 2017

Has your doctor ever said that your blood sugar was slightly higher than normal?

If you answered yes, you have prediabetes.

  • Prediabetes, which used to be called borderline diabetes, is a warning sign that your body is not controlling your blood sugar as well as it should.

  • More than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but are not bad enough to be considered diabetes.

  • Prediabetes typically does not have any symptoms.

  • If left unchecked, some 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

“Type 2 diabetes does not develop overnight. It is a continuum of increasing sugars that happens over several years,” says Jill Gora, MD, family medicine physician at Summit Medical Group.

“With today’s screening tests, we are given this golden window of opportunity to identify elevated sugar and make changes before diabetes and related complications develop.”

You Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

If you have prediabetes, the good news is that it is not too late to reverse course. With lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, you can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

  • Research shows that losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and exercising for at least 150 minutes a week will lower your lifetime risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent.

  • Summit Medical Group has certified diabetes educators, or diabetes coaches, who can help you develop healthy eating and exercise plans.

Dr. Gora urges patients to take the news of prediabetes to heart. Many patients come to her for the first time and are surprised to hear the words prediabetes. They thought their sugar was just a little high.

“I tell them there is no such thing as slightly high sugar. Either your sugar is normal or you are prediabetic,” says Dr. Gora.

“I never want a patient to become diabetic on my watch. During our visit, we talk about the tools and support that they need to make lifestyle changes that will get them back to normal sugar levels.”

Four Steps to Prediabetes Success

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you are probably wondering what to do next. Dr. Gora encourages her patients to follow these four steps.

  1. Take Control

Dr. Gora’s advice: “Our first step is to educate patients that an elevated sugar is a serious red flag and empower them to take control of their health. Prediabetes is a disease that can be entirely self-managed. If they make the right lifestyle changes they can prevent type 2 diabetes and live a long and healthy life.”

  1. Eat Mindfully

Dr. Gora’s advice: “Diet is the most important change for people with prediabetes. I advise patients to meet with a certified diabetes educator to learn about healthy eating habits. You may think dietary changes are obvious, like avoiding candy and baked goods, but a diabetic diet is not that simple. Diabetes educators teach patients how to portion control, be mindful of hidden sugars, and pair the right foods together to avoid spikes in blood sugar.”

  1. Be Active

Dr. Gora’s advice: “You do not have to be an athlete or run a mile a day to stay fit. My absolute favorite exercise is walking. I tell my patients to treat themselves to a nice pair of sneakers and a Fitbit, and take any excuse to go for a walk.”

  1. Check In

Dr. Gora’s advice: “Ask your doctor for a follow-up plan and come back for regular check-ups as needed. Depending on your blood sugar levels and family history, they may advise you to be seen again in three to six months.”

References:

  1. Interview with Jill Gora, MD, family physician at Summit Medical Group (5/9/17).

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes. Web. 28 December 2016.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes. Web. 31 March 2015.

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