Savvy Senior: May you might have prediabetes? by Jim Miller | Well being Health


What can you tell me about prediabetes and how do you know if you have it? My husband, 62, who is in pretty good shape, was recently diagnosed with prediabetes and had no idea. Could i have it too?

Underlying the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes today is a much larger epidemic known as prediabetes. This happens when blood sugar levels are higher than they should be but not high enough to be called diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 84 million Americans today have prediabetes. If left untreated, it almost always turns into type 2 diabetes within 10 years. And if you have prediabetes, the long-term damage it can cause – especially to your heart and circulatory system – may already begin.

But the good news is that prediabetes doesn’t mean you are meant to be full blown diabetes. Prediabetes can actually be reversed and diabetes prevented by making some simple lifestyle changes, such as: B. Lose weight, exercise, eat healthy and reduce carbohydrates. Oral medications may also be an option if you need more help.

Because prediabetes doesn’t usually cause any outward symptoms, most of the people who have it don’t notice. The only way to know for sure if you have it is to do a blood test.

Anyone 45 years or older should consider getting tested for prediabetes, especially if you are overweight with a body mass index (BMI) over 25. Information on how to calculate your BMI can be found at

You should also be evaluated if you are younger than 45 years but are overweight, have high blood pressure, have a family history of diabetes, or are of any ethnic group (Latino, Asian, African, or Native American) at high risk of diabetes.

To help you determine your diabetes risk, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers a quick online risk test that you can take for free at

If you find you are at risk for prediabetes, there are three different tests your doctor can give you to help diagnose. The most common is the “fasting plasma glucose test,” which requires an eight hour fast before ingestion. There is also the “Oral Glucose Tolerance Test” to see how your body is processing sugar and the “Hemoglobin A1C Test” which measures your average blood sugar over the past three months. It can be taken at any time, regardless of when you have eaten.

Most private health insurances and Medicare cover diabetes testing. Alternatively, if you’re not ready to see your doctor for a test, you can go to the drugstore, buy a blood glucose meter, and test yourself at home. They cost around $ 20.

If you find you are prediabetic or diabetic, you need to see your doctor to come up with a plan to get it under control. The ADA recommends losing weight and exercising moderately – for example, 150 minutes of brisk walking per week. And when lifestyle changes don’t work on their own, medication can occur. The ADA recommends the generic metformin, especially for very overweight people under the age of 60.

For more information about diabetes and prediabetes, or for help, join a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program (see These programs offer in-person and online courses in more than 1,500 locations across the United States. Over the course of a year, a coach will help you eat healthily, increase your physical activity and develop new habits.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor on the NBC Today Show and author of The Savvy Senior.