Yes, you can stop diabetes before it begins, but you won’t receive the care you need if you don’t even know you have the problem. Screening is now recommended for everyone beginning at 45 years of age.
Publisher’s Comment: Since you can have a normal fasting blood sugar and still have diabetes and prediabetes, why not use the A1c test. Even though the A1c test is not recommended for diagnosing diabetes and prediabetes, it is certainly and inexpensive and easy to do test. And if their A1c is in the high 5’s you can do a glucose tolerance test.
You can delay or stop diabetes if you catch it before it truly begins. Doctors call this early stage prediabetes. The condition exists when your blood sugar levels rise higher than normal, yet remain lower than those found in diabetes. Studies show that effective treatments can prevent the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.
Here’s where new guidelines from the American Diabetes Association enter. Based on the updated advice, many more people should get tested for prediabetes than in the past. And some folks should begin receiving the tests well before middle age, the association says.
Scientists estimate that an unprecedented 54 million Americans have prediabetes. Without treatment, most people with the condition will go on to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus within 10 years, studies show. Full-blown diabetes causes abnormally high blood sugar levels that may lead to serious health problems.
Even before then, though, people with prediabetes face many of the same health risks as diabetics. For example, people with prediabetes have 1 1/2 times greater risk of heart disease and stroke compared while diabetics have two to four times increased risk.
The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood test for all adults starting no later than age 45. Formerly, the advice was only to consider the test at that age, especially in overweight individuals. If the results are normal, testing should be repeated at least every three years.
Testing should also be considered for adults of all ages who are overweight and have at least one other risk factor. The advice clearly pertains to young men and women at risk for diabetes. Factors that increase risk include physical inactivity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, a family history of diabetes or belonging to a racial minority group.
A fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 milligrams is currently classified as prediabetic. Alternatively, a glucose tolerance test can be performed. During this test, a two-hour blood glucose value between 140 and 199 signals prediabetes. Blood levels below this amount are considered normal while higher levels are indicative of diabetes.
The association recommends therapeutic lifestyle changes for people with prediabetes. If you’re overweight, a weight loss of just 5- to 10 percent can improve the condition, research shows. So can engaging in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes at least five days a week.
A large study followed a group of prediabetics who made these changes. After an average followup of three years, participants achieved nearly a 60 percent reduction in diabetes risk compared to a 30 percent reduction in those on medication.
And what if a drug is prescribed? Metformin is the only one advised for prevention, the diabetes association says.
Source: American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org.
DID YOU KNOW:
Aspirin Can Help Fight Diabetes: "Aspirin therapy has been recognized to improve glucose tolerance and to reduce insulin requirements in diabetic subjects," Salicylates, substances like aspirin, may help obese people produce insulin, which could help them fight diabetes, researchers said. People who are overweight can develop insulin resistance, where the body stops responding to the substance, which moderates blood sugar. Resistance is considered a step toward type 2 diabetes. In a new study they found that salicylates lowered blood sugar in diabetic patients. People did not get more sensitive to insulin, but their bodies produced more with higher doses.