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How common is a prediabetes diagnosis?
One of the things that we know within our Sharp HealthCare hospital system is a quarter, or one in every four, patients that walks through our doors has a diagnosis of diabetes. But what people don’t realize are there are so many more who don’t know that they have diabetes and we’re diagnosing them in the hospital. It’s become so prevalent, diabetes, and now there are 54 million people with prediabetes.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a fairly new term. And I can tell you how it came about: Many years ago, we used to diagnose diabetes with a fasting blood sugar of 140, 140 milligrams per deciliter — by the time the patients were sent to us, newly diagnosed with diabetes, they already had severe complications. We were seeing newly diagnosed patients who had neuropathy; they already had numbness and tingling in their hands and their feet. They had high cholesterol; they were exhibiting symptoms of diabetes in someone who’d had it for a long, long period of time.
How do you determine prediabetes?
The new fasting blood glucose — that’s diagnostic criteria for diabetes — is 126. But there is such a thing now as "a touch of diabetes," or prediabetes, and that’s the people that fall in the gray area — between 100 and 125.
What can I do to stay aware, especially if I have a family history of diabetes?
You want to make sure that you’re having an annual physical where the physician is taking a family history from you. If you have a family member with diabetes, that would cue that physician into screening you much earlier than maybe 45 years of age.
How does someone with prediabetes avoid becoming diabetic?
The prevention is much the same as the treatment for Type 2 diabetes — eating healthy foods, physical activity and losing some of their weight will make the difference between converting to Type 2 or not.