Early detection of prediabetes can reduce cardiovascular disease risk

A diagnosis of prediabetes should be a warning for people to make lifestyle changes to prevent both full-blown diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“We know that having diabetes increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, so in our study we wanted to determine what the absolute risk or probability of developing heart disease was for people who were only at a pre-diabetic level of blood sugar,” said the study’s lead author Michael P. Bancks, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest’s medical school, a part of Wake Forest Baptist Health.

What glucose level is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is indicated by a fasting blood sugar level between100 and 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L), while a fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is considered normal. A level of 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) and higher is the diagnostic threshold for diabetes, Bancks said.

In the study, the researchers used data from seven observational studies that included both white and black men and women who were followed from 1960 through 2015.

The sample included 19,630 individuals who had not had a prior CVD event, considered here as heart disease or stroke. Absolute risk of CVD was determined through analysis of participants’ fasting glucose category beginning at age 55 through 85.

Bancks and colleagues found that the risk for CVD ranged from 15 percent (non-diabetic) to 38 percent (diabetic) among women and from 21 percent (non-diabetic) to 47 percent (diabetic) among men.

Increases in glucose to the diabetic level during mid-life were associated with substantially higher cardiovascular risk than when glucose levels stayed below the diabetes threshold.

“Our study provides further evidence that if you can avoid diabetes you may be able to stave off cardiovascular disease. Pre-diabetes should serve as a red flag to doctors to closely monitor their patient’s blood sugar to try to prevent diabetes through lifestyle interventions like better diet and increased physical activity, and if necessary, with pharmacologic therapies.”

What should you eat if you are prediabetic?

Skip the sugary sodas and processed food, and opt for whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

How can prediabetes be cured permanently?

Here are 5 key diet and lifestyle recommendations from the American Diabetes Association to reduce your risk of both diabetes and prediabetes:

1. Lose some excess weight. Research suggests that even a modest weight loss (approximately 5 to 7percent of your body weight) can reduce the cell’s resistance to insulin so that glucose will be taken up by the cells, and thus, improve blood glucose levels.


2. Move at least 2½ hours weekly. Physical activity has been shown to improve the cells sensitivity to insulin and lower blood glucose levels.

3. Choose your carbohydrates wisely. A well-balanced diet that contains carbohydrate-rich foods including fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and low fat dairy, along with some lean protein and healthy oils, is the diet of choice in the fight against diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke. Cut back on the calories from the less nutritious, carbohydrate-rich sweets and treats to lose weight.

4. Beef up the fiber in your diet. According to research, dietary fiber, as well as whole grains, has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity, or the use of insulin by the cells. While the current recommendation is to consume about 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, Americans, on average, are consuming about 15 grams daily. Choose whole grains (whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn) over refined grains and beef up the whole fruits and vegetables in your diet.

5. Watch the alcohol. While some studies suggest that moderate enjoyment of alcohol, one to three drinks daily, is associated with a decreased risk of diabetes, more than three drinks daily will increase the risk.

Source: WAKE FOREST BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER.

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