Prediabetes: how dangerous is high blood sugar
Depending on the subtype, serious health consequences can occur even at this stage.
Prediabetes is a precursor to diabetes mellitus: those with marked blood sugar levels are usually asymptomatic. But, depending on the subtype, even at this stage, serious health consequences can occur.
Elevated blood sugar is a common occurrence. However, most people are unaware of their risk because there are no noticeable signs - prediabetes does not show up in everyday life. Therefore, it is often not detected until a blood test is performed during a routine examination. But what does it mean when, after laboratory control, they say: “You have a borderline blood sugar level”
Prediabetes Diagnosis: Blood Sugar Limits
Between normal blood sugar levels and the level at which diabetes is diagnosed, there is a gray area. Three different indicators of blood sugar metabolism can be measured - even if one of these indicators of sugar is in an elevated range, prediabetes is already present:
Fasting blood sugar
- normal: less than 100 mg/dl (less than 5.6 mmol/l)
- Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dl (5.6-6.9 mmol/l)
- Diabetes: from 126 mg/dl (from 7 mmol/l)
Assessing glucose tolerance after drinking a standardized sugar solution
- normal: less than 140 mg/dl (less than 7.8 mmol/l)
- Prediabetes: 140-199 mg/dl (7.8-11.0 mmol/l)
- Diabetes: from 200 mg/dl (from 11.1 mmol/l)
Long-term blood sugar (HbA1c)
- Prediabetes: 5.7-6.4% (39-47 mmol/mol)
- Diabetes: from 6.5% (48 mmol/mol)
On the one hand, prediabetes does not necessarily turn into diabetes mellitus, with all its detrimental consequences for the blood vessels, liver, heart, and eyes. On the other hand, current research evidence shows that the impact of prediabetes on health has been grossly underestimated to date. Because even at this stage, serious complications from the cardiovascular system and kidneys can occur, which will significantly worsen life expectancy. The prognosis depends on the subtype of prediabetes.
Prediabetes is reversible with the right treatment
The good news for people with prediabetes is that five to ten percent weight loss is often enough to significantly improve sugar metabolism and get out of the danger zone. This can be achieved through consistent lifestyle changes, especially proper nutrition (with fewer carbohydrates and long breaks in eating or intermittent fasting) and increasing daily physical activity: walking, cycling, climbing stairs. Because even at the beginning of the weight loss process, the body is already breaking down fat in the liver and muscles, allowing insulin from the pancreas to work better again and lower blood sugar levels. It is physical activity that should be significantly increased: intensive individual training throughout the year effectively helps to change your lifestyle with health benefits.
Important: early identification of risk types
Early detection of prediabetes is extremely important to combat lifestyle changes in a timely manner. Because studies show that even prediabetes is partly associated with an increased burden of disease and an increased risk of death. Blood sugar levels should be checked first in people who are overweight on their stomachs, not to mention additional risk factors such as first-degree relatives with diabetes. In addition, people with cardiovascular disease and women diagnosed with gestational diabetes should closely monitor their blood sugar levels.