Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - Prediabetes - Do you have it? How do you know?

Media Contact:
Irene Villaverde 203-863-3463

Prediabetes – Do you have it? How do you know?

– Diabetes is one of the most misunderstood medical conditions. “It’s not just about sugar. It’s about your heart,” says Nancy Ryan, RD, BC-ADM, a registered dietitian, board-certified in advanced diabetes management at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Diabetes is the result of the body’s inability to properly use or make the hormone insulin, which is needed to convert sugar and starch from food into energy.
Complications occur when sugar accumulates in the blood instead of going into the cells. This is referred to as high blood sugar or a high glucose level, and it can trigger higher than normal cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to increased risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular disease in the legs.

According to statistics from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control, about 79 million adult Americans (one in every four over the age of 20; and one of every two Americans over age 65) are walking around with prediabetes. This means they have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Although prediabetes has no symptoms it is not benign, says Ryan. People with prediabetes have an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and neuropathy, which creates tingling sensations or numbing caused by changes in nerve function. Ryan adds, ‘If ignored, about half of all people with prediabetes will go on to develop diabetes that can lead to kidney failure, blindness and serious blood circulation problems.”

One factor is genetics; another is where you store your body fat. People with belly fat are at higher risk than those who store fat in their hips and thighs. Fat that surrounds the body’s vital organs presents a greater danger to good health and can cause insulin resistance, rising blood glucose levels, high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats such as high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides.

Prediabetes is often diagnosed through blood tests associated with a routine physical exam. “It’s a wake-up call. The condition can often be reversed through diet and exercise. Changing direction can have a profound positive impact on your life,” says Ryan, adding, “The key is to eat well, maintain a good weight, and move, move, move. It’s as simple as keeping a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink, as well as your physical activity, which should add up to a minimum of 150 minutes every week.”

“If you have prediabetes, losing as little as five to seven percent of your body weight, or about 10 pounds for most people, can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent,” says Ryan. “Most people can do that. Whether you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, a 10-pound weight loss usually makes you feel better and your clothes fit better. Your blood work reflects your success.”

Greenwich Hospital is hosting a Diabetes Health Fair on June 10 from 4-7pm in the hospital’s Noble Conference Center, located at 5 Perryridge Road in Greenwich, Connecticut. Whether you have diabetes, prediabetes, or a loved one with one of these conditions, stop by to keep abreast of the latest advances in diabetes management. Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to attend. This event is free. Walk-ins welcome. For more information, call 203-863-3929.