SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Pre-diabetes usually has no symptoms and can progress to type 2 diabetes.
- If you have pre-diabetes, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Risk factors for pre-diabetes include a family history of type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking and some ethnic backgrounds.
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes, which may be known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG), occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, although not high enough to be . There are no symptoms. People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing and .
Without lifestyle changes, approximately one in 3 people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes such as , and (if you are overweight) will help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where glucose in the blood is too high. This happens when the pancreas can no longer make insulin as in . In type 2 diabetes the pancreas cannot make enough insulin and the insulin it makes does not work as well as it should (also known as insulin resistance). As a result glucose in the blood rises above ideal levels.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, exercise, weight loss (if overweight) and diabetes medication. Management for both type 1 and 2 diabetes aims to reduce the risk of health problems such as damage to blood vessels and nerves.
Pre-diabetes usually has no symptoms, so it is important to be aware of the risk factors and have regular checks by your doctor.
Risk factors for pre-diabetes
The risk factors for developing pre-diabetes are the same as for type 2 diabetes. They include:
- family history of type 2 diabetes
- being overweight
- waist measurement
- in Caucasian men – greater than 94 cm
- in Asian men – greater than 90 cm
- in women – greater than 80 cm
- low level of physical activity
- or high (blood fats), or both
- (diabetes during pregnancy)
- some .
Also, the risk of developing pre-diabetes is greater for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Middle Eastern people
- South Asian people
- Pacific Islander people
- North African people.
Diagnosis of pre-diabetes
Any blood glucose test that shows higher than normal blood glucose levels needs to be checked further. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is the best way to diagnose pre-diabetes. The results of the OGTT will show whether your blood glucose levels are in the normal, pre-diabetes or diabetes range.
If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you will have one or both of:
- impaired fasting glucose (IFG) – when your fasting blood glucose level is higher than optimal, but still below the level needed for a diagnosis of diabetes
- impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) – when your blood glucose level 2 hours after an OGTT is higher than optimal, but is still below the level needed for a diagnosis of diabetes. The fasting blood glucose level may be in the target range.
Management of pre-diabetes
Pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, including:
- Weight loss – helps the insulin in your body work better and lower your blood glucose levels.
- Regular moderate physical activity – exercise makes your insulin work better. It will help lower your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise also helps you manage your weight.
- A healthy diet – eat less and more healthy fats (, avocado, , olive oil), and high-fibre .
- Stopping smoking – smoking causes insulin resistance and increases the risk of blood vessel disease.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol control – should be well managed and checked regularly by your doctor.
In many cases, if enough lifestyle changes are made, type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
Follow-up for pre-diabetes
You don’t need to check your own blood glucose levels with a blood glucose meter when you have pre-diabetes.
Once you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, lifestyle changes are most important. Your doctor should organise a repeat oral glucose tolerance test in 12 months, unless you develop symptoms of diabetes earlier. If you do have some of the then it is important to speak to your doctor about this.