There are three ways of diagnosing prediabetes:
- People who have high blood glucose after not eating for at least 8 hours have “impaired fasting glucose.”
After fasting for 8 hours, a healthy person’s blood glucose levels are usually less than 100 mg/dl. A person with diabetes has blood glucose levels higher than 125 mg/dl. People who don’t fit into either category—with levels between 100 and 125 mg/dl—are described as having prediabetes.
- People who experience a large rise in blood glucose after consuming a concentrated sugar drink have “impaired glucose tolerance.”
Health care providers diagnose this condition by testing a patient’s blood glucose 2 hours after the patient consumes a sweet drink that contains 75 grams of sugar (oral glucose tolerance test). Healthy people have blood glucose levels less than 140 mg/dl. A person with diabetes has blood glucose levels higher than 200 mg/dl. Persons whose blood glucose levels fall in the middle, between 140 and 199 mg/dl, have prediabetes.
- People with hemoglobin A1C levels between 5.7% and 6.4% fall into the “category of high risk for diabetes.”
People with normal blood glucose have hemoglobin A1c levels below 5.7%. People with diabetes have levels 6.5% or greater. Someone whose A1c levels fall between the two cutoffs are in a category of high risk.
Should I be screened for prediabetes?
Talk to your health care provider if you…
- Are 45 years or older
- Are overweight (body mass index of 25 kg/m2 or greater; in Asians, 23 kg/m2 or greater)
- Have a family history of diabetes in a first-degree relative (parents, siblings, children)
- Have a history of gestational diabetes
- Belong to a minority racial group
Don’t lose hope…
A prediabetes diagnosis does not mean that a person will definitely develop type 2 diabetes—healthy lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your risk of developing diabetes and delay its development. These changes may include:
- Eating a healthy diet (e.g. monitoring carbs)
- Exercising regularly (e.g. 30 minutes for five days a week)
- Losing weight (e.g. 7% of body weight)