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The One Way to Tell If You Have Prediabetes, According to the CDC

Find out if you're among the 1 in 3 Americans with this life-threatening condition.
diabetes

Prediabetes means your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to officially be type 2 diabetes. That doesn't put you in the clear by any means. Here's why:

Prediabetes is a critical sign that you are on the slippery road to type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that affects how your body metabolizes sugar. Left untreated, diabetes often leads to heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, eye damage, Alzheimer's disease, and more. About 88 million Americans have prediabetes—that's more than 1 in 3 adults—and 84% of them don't know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (Related: 20 Warning Signs of Diabetes You Shouldn't Ignore)

Don't rely on your family doctor to figure out where you stand: After reading this article, you may be more informed about the warning signs of prediabetes than he or she. A 2017 survey of primary care providers in the Journal of General Internal Medicine explored their knowledge of prediabetes and found some disturbing facts: Only 6% of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants correctly identified all of the risk factors that should prompt prediabetes screening and just 17% correctly identified the lab parameters for diagnosing prediabetes from the two most common tests—fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c.

Those findings should convince you to take more personal control of your health. Start here with this prediabetes screening self-test (adapted from the CDC National Diabetes Prevention Program) found in our book, The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet. Then ask your doctor for a fasting glucose or hA1c test on your next visit.

Answer these questions. For each "yes" answer, record the number of points listed. "No" answers score 0 points. 

1. Are you a woman who has had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth? (Yes: 1 / No: 0)
2. Do you have a mother, father, sister, or brother with diabetes? (Yes: 1 / No: 0)
3. Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure? (Yes: 1 / No: 0)
5. Use the American Diabetes Association's BMI Calculator to calculate your BMI. (Under 25: 0 / 25-29: 1 / 30-39: 2 / 40+: 3)
6. How old are you? (Under 40: 0 / 40-49: 1 / 50-59: 2 / 60+: 3)
7. Are you physically active? (Yes: 0 / No: 1)
8. Are you a man or a woman? (Man: 1 / Woman: 0)

The CDC says if you scored a total of 5 points or higher, it's considered a high risk for having prediabetes. As mentioned earlier, Then ask your doctor for a fasting glucose or hA1c test on your next visit.

The sooner you know you have prediabetes, the sooner you can take action to reverse it and prevent type 2 diabetes. With the right intervention—including eating healthily, adding physical activity, and managing stress—you can create lasting lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. You should consult with your doctor before trying any intervention on your own, but read up on these tips so you can ask your doctor about them: 10 Best Ways to Cut Your Diabetes Risk, According to Doctors.

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Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. Read more
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