What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose or A1C levels—which reflect average blood glucose levels—are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Prediabetes is becoming more common in the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that at least 86 million U.S. adults ages 20 or older had prediabetes in 2012.1 People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

 

How does insulin resistance relate to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes?

Insulin resistance increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Prediabetes usually occurs in people who already have insulin resistance. Although insulin resistance alone does not cause type 2 diabetes, it often sets the stage for the disease by placing a high demand on the insulin-producing beta cells. In prediabetes, the beta cells can no longer produce enough insulin to overcome insulin resistance, causing blood glucose levels to rise above the normal range.

Once a person has prediabetes, continued loss of beta cell function usually leads to type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes have high blood glucose. Over time, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations.

Studies have shown that most people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they change their lifestyle. Lifestyle changes include losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight— 5-10kgs for people who weigh 90 kgs—by making changes in their diet and level of physical activity.