Understanding Pre-Diabetes: Risk Factors and Prevention

An older woman with pre-diabetes tests her blood glucose levels.
Understanding pre-diabetes can help people prevent the progression of the disease.

As the body ages, the risk for chronic health issues, in particular, diabetes, increases. Before a person is diagnosed with full-blown diabetes, however, they may be told by a health care provider that they have pre-diabetes. According to AgingCare.com, around 40% of people between the ages of 40 and 74 have pre-diabetes. This alarming statistic highlights the importance of understanding pre-diabetes, its risk factors, and how to manage it in order to prevent it from developing into diabetes.

What Is Pre-Diabetes and Who Is at Risk?

Pre-diabetes is a medical condition characterized by blood sugar levels that are elevated, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. The condition is considered a warning sign, indicating an increased risk of developing full-blown diabetes in the future. If left unaddressed, pre-diabetes can lead to serious health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing pre-diabetes, and it is crucial for people to be aware of these in order to take preventive measures:

  • Age: As noted above, pre-diabetes is more common in individuals aged 40 to 74. Aging itself is a risk factor due to changes in metabolism and lifestyle.
  • Family History: Genetics play a crucial role in the development of these conditions. A family history of diabetes or pre-diabetes can raise your risk significantly.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which are associated with pre-diabetes.
  • Poor Diet: A diet high in processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats can contribute to pre-diabetes. Consuming a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is essential for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Obesity: Being overweight, especially if the excess weight is carried around the abdomen, is a significant risk factor for pre-diabetes.
  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension can increase the risk of pre-diabetes and vice versa, as the two conditions often coexist.

How to Manage Pre-Diabetes

While a diagnosis of pre-diabetes can be alarming, there is good news; pre-diabetes can be managed and even reversed with lifestyle changes.

  • Engaging in regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and maintain a healthy weight. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate exercise plan.
  • Adopt a balanced diet rich in fiber, whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables. Also, reduce your intake of sugary and processed foods.
  • If you’re overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight can significantly reduce your risk of progressing to diabetes.
  • Regularly check your blood sugar levels as advised by your healthcare provider. This can help you track your progress and make necessary adjustments.
  • In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to help manage blood sugar levels. These should be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
  • Make sure you have regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your pre-diabetes and overall health.

Pre-diabetes is a common condition, but it doesn’t have to lead to a diabetes diagnosis. By understanding the risk factors, making necessary lifestyle changes, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, people can take control of their health and potentially reverse pre-diabetes.

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, our caregivers can provide the support and encouragement needed to stay healthy. Our home care services can assist with:

  • Medication reminders
  • Doctor-approved exercise routines
  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
  • And much more

Additionally, our PathLink Chronic Disease Management program, serving all of Maricopa County, can help improve patient self-management, resulting in sustained behavior change, better outcomes and improved quality of life. Contact us today at (602) 926-1157 or reach out to us online to learn more about how we can help loved ones better manage their health in the comfort of home.