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Pre-diabetes and its importance


As you recall from last week’s review on diabetes testing, Pre-diabetes is that range of blood sugars where you are not completely normal but not yet a diabetic. The numbers will depend on the testing you have done.{{more}} Pre-diabetes range is:

1) Between 5.5 and 6.9 mMol/L (100 and 125 mg/dL) fasting

2) Between 7.8 and 11 mMol/L (141-199 mg/dL) after a glucose tolerance test/glucose challenge.

It is thought that there are millions upon millions of people in the world walking around with pre-diabetes, just waiting to develop into full-blown diabetes during the next 10 years. As you can guess, most people with pre-diabetes are unaware of their condition because they have not been tested (in fact millions of people with diabetes are unaware of their diagnosis as well). Why all the fuss? It is not yet diabetes, right? So why get worked up over it?

There are two main reasons why this is such a big deal in the medical community, fast becoming important in the public health sector, and to people on an individual basis. First, even though blood sugars are not very high during this pre-diabetes phase, some damage is already being done to your blood vessels during this phase. That’s right, even this early. Over the years medical research has shown this through different kinds of tests. The amount of time someone spends in this pre-diabetes phase varies tremendously between individuals: you and your neighbor could both have pre-diabetes, but you become diabetic next year while he/she is still pre-diabetic 5 years later.

If this scares you a bit, good. If it does not, please think again. I have heard some interesting responses from patients over the years, but I am still amazed every time someone looks at me and says, “Well, we all have to die from something, Doc.” I have noticed that I routinely get this response from someone who has no desire to make the changes necessary to make their health better, and they use this philosophical approach as their excuse. All I can do is shake my head in disappointment, because I know very well that if I was asking them to give up something they did not like, they would do it in a heart beat. Why am I bringing this up? Because pre-diabetes puts you at increased risk of heart disease in future, which means you are at increased risk of dying from this over the next several years. For all of you out there starting your “we all have to die of something” speech, let me ask you this:

If you got on a bus, having quite a nice ride, then the conductor turned to you and said, “By the way, at some time there is a good chance this bus will crash. I can’t tell you when or how. And I can’t say 100%, but you have a higher chance of crashing on this bus than that other one behind us.”

Truly, how many of you would stay on that bus, instead of getting off and going to the one behind, with the smaller chance of crashing? Answer honestly.

WHEN you decide to get off that bus (I am confident that you will decide your life is worth this effort), there are good options. Cont’d next week.

Anita Ramsetty, MD
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227