Detecting prediabetes

By • Published: February 11th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

This Valentine’s Day, as you rip open the box of chocolates from your honey, take a step back from your quest to figure out which one has the gooey coconut filling. Then, think about this number: 57 million.

That’s how many people in the United States have prediabetes. People with prediabetes aren’t diabetic … yet. But they do have blood sugar levels high enough to be in danger of developing the disease.

They are also still at a point where they could reverse course with the right lifestyle changes. The problem? Most people with prediabetes don’t know they are at risk.

There are several warning flags for prediabetes. For example, if you are packing on a few extra pounds and don’t hit the gym very often, you could be at a greater risk. Also, African-Americans are more likely to develop the condition, as are people over age 45.

If you’re concerned you may be in danger of developing type 2 diabetes, a blood test at the doctor’s office could offer answers.

The good news: If you have prediabetes, it isn’t too late. Experts recommend eating right and losing about 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight. You may also want to dust off those sneakers and hit the pavement. Taking a 30-minute walk every day can also help get your blood sugar back in shape.

Why is it so important to change your habits now?

People with type 2 diabetes either don’t produce or don’t respond to insulin. Insulin helps your body metabolize sugar, and not having it gives glucose a free pass to build up in your cells. Uncontrolled diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, glaucoma and depression.

So maybe just have one candy out of that pack. Better yet, take a Valentine’s walk with your sweetie. You’ll each be one step further from diabetes.