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Friends of New London Hospital | November/December 2013
About 40% of Americans age 40 and
older are walking around with a
ticking time bomb—in the form of
high blood sugar levels. They might
not officially have type 2 diabetes yet
but they’re getting close, and their
risk of heart disease and stroke is on
the rise. Fortunately, you can prevent
or delay pre-diabetes with modest
lifestyle changes.
How high is too high when it comes to
blood sugar? Less than it used to be.
A revised, more accurate definition of
pre-diabetes has led experts to realize
that more than twice as many people
have this condition than once believed.
It is now estimated that 41 million
adults—up from 20 million—have pre-diabetes.
Lauri Smerald, Diabetic Educator at New London
Hospital, stresses that pre-diabetes is a very real risk
and encourages patients to take control of their health
by incorporating physical activity into their lifestyles
and maintaining a healthy weight. “Regardless of your
age, being active is an important part
in staying healthy,” says Smerald. “It
does not matter how young or old
you are, you’re not exempt from pre-
diabetes. Inactivity and body weight
are significant risk factors that affect
your blood sugar control.”
How Is Pre-Diabetes Defined?
Not considered full-fledged diabetes,
pre-diabetes is marked by higher-
than-normal blood sugar levels. The
condition raises the risk of heart
disease and often leads to type 2
diabetes within 10 years.
The risk of pre-diabetes rises with age and excess
pounds. Adults age 45 and older should talk to their
health care provider about pre-diabetes testing,
especially if they are overweight. Your doctor might
consider earlier testing if you have other risk factors
for diabetes, including the following:
Being African-American, Hispanic, Native
American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander
Having high cholesterol or high blood pressure
Leading an inactive lifestyle
Having family history of diabetes—in parent,
sibling or grandparent
Being overweight (body mass index of 25 or more)
Two tests are used to diagnose pre-
diabetes: impaired fasting glucose
(
IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance
(
IGT). According to new guidelines
from the American Diabetes
Association, pre-diabetes is diagnosed
when blood sugar is:
• 100
to 125 milligrams per deciliter
(
mg/dL) using the IFG test after an
overnight fast
• 140
to 199 mg/dL using the IGT test
after a two-hour blood sugar test
Small Steps Add Up
to Lower Health Risks
If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes,
you can prevent or delay the onset of
type 2 diabetes by:
Losing 5 to 7% of your body weight
Exercising for 30 minutes, five days a week
Making healthier food choices
Stopping smoking
You don’t have to make drastic
changes to achieve these modest
goals. Take it one small step at a
time. Smerald coaches patients to
never give up and just do the best
they can each day. “If the day does
not start out the way you wanted
it to, that’s OK. Don’t give up and
throw it all in. Developing healthy
habits is always a work in progress.
Also, don’t set yourself up for
failure by doing too much at once.
Changing one behavior at a time is a good thing. Slow
and steady wins the race.”
Here are some ideas to better control
healthy calorie intake:
Drink a glass of water before mealtime to curb
your appetite.
Fool yourself into consuming smaller portions by
eating on salad plates.
Try one new fruit or vegetable a week.
Practice mindful eating; treating yourself is OK, but
every day is not a dessert day.
The holidays are approaching! It’s not that you
can’t have the cakes and cookies, but remember
that it’s all about portion control.
6
Pre-Diabetes is on the Rise—Are You at Risk?
It does not matter
how young or old
you are, you’re not
exempt from
pre-diabetes.”
Lauri Smerald,
NLH Diabetic Educator