What is prediabetes?
Many people suffer from type 2 diabetes, a disease often associated with a particular lifestyle with unhealthy foods and too little exercise. The patient’s pancreas produces less insulin – a substance necessary for the cell-absorption of glucose (sugar) into the blood. In addition to a lower production of insulin, the patient’s cells may have become resistant to insulin so that they do not respond as effectively to insulin in the blood as before. Prediabetes is a precursor to type 2 diabetes and it affects many people without their knowledge of it. Approximately 90 % of people with prediabetes are unknowing about their situation, and they are at risk of developing diabetes, heart failure or a brain haemorrhage if they do not change their behaviour in time.
Occasionally, the disease is referred to as ‘impaired glucose tolerance’ or ‘reduced fasting glucose’. It is a condition where blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Data suggests that about 30-40 % of patients with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 3,5 years, and that it can be very difficult to cure once the patient has it.
What are the symptoms?
Unfortunately, there are no obvious symptoms of prediabetes, and it is therefore rarely discovered in time. Therefore, in order to be diagnosed, a medical examination is required, and there are several risk factors associated with prediabetes which include:
Being overweight or obese
A lack of physical exercise
Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
Being older than 45 years
Being a woman with previous gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
Being a man
If you wish to examine your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, a test has been made for this purpose. The test can be found on www.DoIHavePrediabetes.org.
Apart from being asked about your lifestyle, the test provides you with beneficial lifestyle advice as well.
What are the causes?
The precise causes of prediabetes are unknown, but it is known that both heritage and environment are involved. As a result, a number of different genes are suspected to cause prediabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle with very little physical activity, a daily high caloric intake and major abdominal fat depots are also associated with developing the condition.
What are the treatments?
Often, prediabetes can be treated so that you achieve normal values in blood sugar again, thus avoiding the development of type 2 diabetes. There are several pieces of advice as to how you can avoid or delay the development of type 2-diabetes. These involve weight control with a weight loss of about 5-7 % of the current weight, regular exercise for at least 2,5 hours a week and a healthier diet with low calorie foods as well as quitting smoking.