Prediabetes isn’t just a risk factor for developing diabetes. There’s growing evidence linking it to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease as well as early mortality—even if you never get full-blown diabetes!
Background: Prediabetes is at almost-epidemic levels, and health professionals are becoming more aware than ever of the need to treat and reverse it before it turns into full-blown diabetes. As the name implies, prediabetes is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, a serious condition that negatively affects health and well-being, from heart and kidney disease to eye damage, hearing impairment and Alzheimer’s. Prediabetes has no distinct signs or symptoms. It is typically discovered when your fasting blood sugar level is measured as part of a routine physical.
Study: Researchers looked at the results of 53 studies on cardiovascular risks associated with prediabetes, including coronary artery disease and stroke, as well as death from any cause.
Results: Prediabetes was associated with a statistically significant increased risk for cardiovascular disease—including coronary artery disease and stroke—as well as death from any cause. Having prediabetes increased the risk of developing cardiovascular disease between 13% and 30% over an average of 9.5 years, for example. In some studies, increased cardiovascular risk started in individuals with an A1C (a test that measures blood glucose levels over the past two or three months) as low as 5.6%, which is the upper range of “normal”—prediabetes is defined as between 5.7% and 6.4%…diabetes 6.5% or higher. The higher the A1C, the higher the cardiovascular risks.
What to do if you have prediabetes: Proper diet, weight loss and exercise are the major lifestyle management elements that continue to be the recommended treatment for people with prediabetes. However, if you are otherwise at high risk for heart disease, beyond having prediabetes, check with your doctor for possible additional treatments, such as taking the drug metformin, which has been shown to help prevent diabetes. To learn more about how to lower your risks, see the Bottom Line article “Got Prediabetes? Millions Do…But You Can Reverse It!”