Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Prediabetes Linked to Stroke Risk

Lifestyle Changes May Help Prevent Stroke Among People With Prediabetes
By
WebMD Health News

June 8, 2012 -- People with prediabetes may be at greater risk for stroke, a new study suggests.

Prediabetes refers to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be defined as having diabetes. This condition places a person at greater risk for full-blown diabetes. Many people with prediabetes also have other risk factors for stroke. These include being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego analyzed 15 studies of nearly 761,000 people to get a handle on whether or not prediabetes increases stroke risk.

And it does -- sometimes. Stroke risk varies based on the definition of prediabetes. Not all studies in the new analysis defined prediabetes in the same way.

Prediabetes is typically defined as a fasting (not eating for 12 hours) glucose level between 100 to 125 mg/dl. Seventy to 100 mg/dl is normal.

Studies with people whose blood sugar levels were in the 110 to 125 mg/dl range showed a 21% greater likelihood of stroke. This risk held even after the research team took into account other factors that are known to increase risk for stroke.

This range was how the American Diabetes Association defined prediabetes in 1997. They changed the definition to 100mg/dl to 125mg/dl in 2003.

Studies that used the less-restrictive range did show a higher risk for stroke.

Future stroke risk begins to rise at or above a fasting glucose level of 110 mg/dL, the study authors suggest. Their findings appear in the British Medical Journal.

If you fall into this category, "the best thing you can do is alter your lifestyle," says researcher Bruce Ovbiagele, MD. He is a neuroscientist at University of California at San Diego. "Maintain a normal weight and try to exercise at least three times a week."

There is no medicine that treats prediabetes, but "lifestyle modifications can prevent more than 50% of people from going from prediabetes to frank diabetes, which is a major risk factor for stroke," he says.

The best part is that these lifestyle changes are side-effect free.

"There is a growing epidemic of prediabetes, and more people should check whether or not they have it, regardless of the difference in definitions," Ovbiagele tells WebMD.

Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Full-Blown Diabetes

Minisha Sood, MD, agrees. She says prediabetes can be an important warning sign for future health problems, including stroke. Sood is an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

The question becomes: What can you do about it? "If someone has impaired fasting glucose, I suggest lifestyle modifications endorsing 5% to 10% weight loss if they are overweight or obese, 150 minutes of exercise per week, and counseling about how to accomplish this."

"Many people don't take complications of their disease to heart, and they don't put a lot of weight on lifestyle changes," she says. "The onus is on the patient, but physicians can't be lackadaisical about prediabetes either. ... Know your numbers so you can get a head start on reducing your cardiovascular risk factors."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article