What Is Borderline Diabetes?

According to government statistics from 2010, nearly 19 million people live with diabetes. This represents an increase of more than 1,200 percent since 1958, “an increase of epidemic proportions.”

Although there were no hard numbers, the report estimated some 79 million Americans over the age of 20 have prediabetes, also known as borderline diabetes.

What Is Borderline Diabetes?

Borderline diabetes may be a more familiar term, but most people refer to it as prediabetes today. It can be found in people who either have impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). In both cases, the level of sugar in the bloodstream is dangerously close to the diabetic range.

If blood is drawn after fasting for six hours and the glucose level is between 100 and 125 mg/dl this is indicative of IFG. If the results of a glucose challenge test, where the patient consumes a sugary drink and then has his or her blood sugar tested, are in the high 130s up to 200 (depending on the physician), that could indicate IGT.

What Does this Mean?

Prediabetes essentially means that, without changes to lifestyle, there is a very good chance of developing type 2 diabetes in less than a decade. Borderline diabetes also raises the risks in patients for heart attacks or stroke. However, insulin therapy is not necessary for prediabetes treatment.

What Can Treat Prediabetes?

There are some medications that doctors can prescribe to help treat prediabetes, but the most effective treatment is lifestyle change. For those most at risk doctors can prescribe metformin, a drug which lowers blood sugar and has been known to aid in weight loss. However, these are only typically prescribed in the most severe cases, usually when the patient has complications from other diseases such as fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, or cardiovascular disease.

Essentially, modest weight loss combined with regular exercise is the best weapon one has to prevent prediabetes from evolving into type 2 diabetes. This means losing about five to seven percent of body weight and doing 150 minutes of exercise each week. It is also recommended that one works with a health professional in order to determine what parts of one’s diet that most need changing.

With a commitment to this kind of prevention, it is very possible that prediabetes will never transition to type 2 diabetes. It takes work and perseverance, but the benefits are worth it.

Sources: CDC, National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic

Photo credit: Francisco Orsorio via Flickr Creative Commons

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