Type 2 diabetes is a disease that, if left untreated or improperly managed, can lead to serious health complications including lower limb amputation, kidney disease, eye damage, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and mental health disorders. People over the age of 40 that have a parent or sibling with diabetes are at higher risk, but lifestyle changes, education, medications and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, we have good tools for the diagnosis of prediabetes.
According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal blog post, prediabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Nearly 6 million Canadians have prediabetes, and if left unmanaged can progress to type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of prediabetes can be vague and may include fatigue, weight gain over recent months or years, vision changes, or more frequent bathroom visits. Because these symptoms can often be attributed to aging, they may be ignored without the insight of lab data.
Although a prediabetes diagnosis is concerning, stopping smoking, changes to diet, weight loss if overweight, and regular exercise can help prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes. A referral from your doctor to a registered dietitian can help patients learn more about a healthy diet that fits individual needs. Keeping active is also important to maintain body weight, mental health, and cardiovascular health. Losing just 5 percent of body weight can significantly shift blood glucose and cardiovascular metabolic levels including blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Journaling eating habits, physical activity, and tracking blood glucose levels at home can also help people with prediabetes determine the effect certain foods and activities have on glucose measurements. With greater insight into the effects of behaviors on blood glucose, individuals can make adjustments in their lifestyle that support better health. Medications commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes may also help people with prediabetes lose weight and prevent or delay the progression to type 2 diabetes.
Talk with your healthcare provider to determine the best way to create a tailored plan to help manage prediabetes and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Certified Diabetes Educators can be useful in helping patients learn more about managing prediabetes and develop strategies to implement positive lifestyle changes.
Learn more by following this link to Diabetes Canada to learn more and access healthcare resources.