High scores for credit ratings, football games, and SATs are all good, but high blood sugar levels are no reason to celebrate. They're a sign of prediabetes. That's when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to mean a diabetes diagnosis.
The number of Americans with prediabetes has doubled since 1988, according to research in Annals of Internal Medicine -- bad news, since the condition raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. For women, the rise in cases of prediabetes is striking. Rates skyrocketed from 15.5% in 2001 to 50.5% in 2010.
- Gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Gave birth to babies weighing more than 9 pounds
- Or were diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
For midlife women, prediabetes is a wake-up call, since the risk of being diagnosed with diabetes increases after age 45 -- when metabolism slows, muscle mass decreases, and weight loss becomes harder.
"Don’t wait until you feel sick to get screened for prediabetes," says M. Kaye Kramer, DrPH. She's the director of the Diabetes Prevention Support Center at the University of Pittsburgh. "Early detection is essential because, if left unchecked, prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes."
To complicate matters, prediabetes has no symptoms, which is why the American Diabetes Association estimates that fewer than 10% of the 86 million adults with prediabetes have been diagnosed.
It’s possible to lower your prediabetes risk or keep a diagnosis from turning into type 2 diabetes. Start with these three lifestyle changes.
Focus on weight loss. Research shows that losing 10% of your body weight (about 20 pounds for a 200-pound woman) within 6 months of a prediabetes diagnosis can dramatically cut your risk of getting diabetes within 3 years.
Get moving. Kramer suggests you get 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity exercise at least 5 days a week.