Feb. 2, 2016—Here’s a shocking stat: More than 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes—a serious condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be. Untreated prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes and other health problems over time.
And out of those who have prediabetes, almost 9 out of 10 of them don’t know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s why CDC and other health organizations have launched a first-of-its-kind campaign to encourage people to learn more about their prediabetes risk.
What to know about prediabetes
Here’s what you should know about prediabetes—and how you can protect your health:
Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 diabetes. Up to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years, says CDC. Prediabetes can also cause other serious health problems like heart attack or stroke.
Anyone can get prediabetes—but some people are at higher risk. You could be more likely to get prediabetes if you:
- Are overweight
- Are 45 or older
- Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Exercise less than 3 times per week
- Ever had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander or Asian American
You can have prediabetes and feel perfectly fine. Often prediabetes doesn’t have any symptoms. That’s why so many people with the condition don’t realize they have it. But some people with prediabetes can have some symptoms of diabetes, such as blurry vision, thirst, tiredness or frequent urination.
You should talk to a healthcare provider if you’re at risk. A doctor can test your blood sugar to tell if you have prediabetes. If you’re diagnosed, he or she can also help you take steps to improve your health and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes can be reversed or managed with healthy lifestyle changes. But it’s important to move fast. The sooner you act, the better chance you have of preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes. Here are some things that can help:
- Losing weight. Shedding just 7 percent of your weight can reduce your diabetes risk by 58 percent, says the American Diabetes Association.
- Being active. 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking) 5 days a week can help
- Eating healthier
- Quitting smoking
Memorial offers a prediabetes class where participants meet in groups with a trained lifestyle coach for 16 weekly, one-hour sessions and seven monthly follow up sessions. If you would like to learn more about this program, you can attend an orientation on the last Monday of each month from 4-4:30 p.m. at Memorial’s Community Education Center at 2506 W. Nob Hill Blvd. No registration is necessary for the orientation.