February 5, 2016
My doctor says I have risk of developing diabetes soon!! What should I do?
What is prediabetes?
Globally, 382 million people are known to have diabetes, 65 million of them are in India. The numbers are expected to double by the year 2030. A much larger number of people are “at-risk” for diabetes i.e. they are have prediabetes and could progress into diabetes if timely action is not taken.Prediabetes increases the risk of a person progressing into full-fledged diabetes. It also independently increases the risk of heart diseases, strokes etc. This is the reason why prediabetes is increasingly becoming a target of treatment by doctors worldwide.The good news is that lifestyle changes and other interventions can reverse this condition or at least delay the onset of diabetes.
What causes Prediabetes?
Although the exact reason is not known, there are many known risk factors which would increase a person’s tendency to have prediabetes or diabetes. The chief among them are
1. Being overweight or obese, especially if one has extra weight in the belly.
2. Having a sedentary lifestyle i.e. not doing enough physical activity.
3. Having a family history of diabetes i.e. having parents or brothers, sisters or other first degree relatives who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
4. Having diabetes which has first recognised during pregnancy (Gestational Diabetes).
5. Being Asian, Latino or Black. People from these ethnic backgrounds (that’s us!!) have a higher genetic predisposition to get prediabetes and diabetes.
6. Smoking, apart from increasing a person’s risk for heart disease, lung diseases, cancers etc. is now increasingly being recognised as a risk factor for prediabetes and diabetes.
What should I do if I have Prediabetes?
The most important part of managing prediabetes is to make lifestyle changes. This may prevent a person from progressing to full-fledged diabetes or at least delay it’s onset.
The Important lifestyle changes are:
1. Weight loss: losing 5-10 % of your original body weight significantly reduces the risk of diabetes. Correct diet and physical activity are most common methods of losing weight. Your doctor may also prescribe you medication to lose weight.
2. Dietary Changes: Reduce sweets, soft drinks, juices, colas and other aerated drinks, refined grains, fast food, food rich in fats, oils etc. Choose to eat fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, lean meat etc. which will help you lose weight and also reduce risk of Diabetes.
3. Physical activity: increase physical activity; exercise etc. in your daily routine.
It is not always necessary to go to the gym and do rigorous exercises. At least 30 minutes of physical activity like walking, gardening, dancing etc. are also very beneficial. Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime.
4. Quit Smoking: as discussed earlier smoking is now being recognized as risk factor for diabetes and prediabetes. Quitting smoking significantly reduces this risk along with risk of cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases and cancers.
How do I know if I have prediabetes? What tests should be done?
There are many accurate tests for diagnosing prediabetes. You should let your doctor decide which tests are appropriate for you. The common tests used for diagnosing prediabetes are:
1. Fasting Blood Glucose- a blood test done when a person has not had any meal or drink (except water) for at least 8 hours. A test result between 100 to 125 mg/dl would mean that the person has Prediabetes.
2. Glucose Tolerance test- This test is done when a person has not had any meal or drink (except water) for at least 8-12 hours. A sugary drink is then given to the person and Blood Glucose levels are tested after 2 hours. If the test results are between 140 and 199 mg/dl then that person is diagnosed to have Prediabetes.
3. Haemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) – This test shows you average blood glucose for the last 3 months. It is not necessary to give this test in fasting state. A test result between 5.7 and 6.4 would mean that the person has Prediabetes.