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Six prediabetes essentials

What you need to know



1. What is prediabetes? 

Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.


2. Why should I care about prediabetes?

Prediabetes acts as an early warning system for your body — if caught early enough, it can be reversed with healthy eating and lifestyle changes. If prediabetes is ignored, it can develop into more serious conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


3. Am I at risk? 

People with certain risk factors are more likely to develop prediabetes. The most common factors are:

  • Age – Those 45 and older are at a higher risk
  • Ethnicity – People of African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander descent have been shown to be at greater risk
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • Low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

4. How can I tell if I have prediabetes? 

Unfortunately, it is common for prediabetics to experience no symptoms at all, meaning many have it and may not know it. If you have any of the above risk factors, or are concerned you may have prediabetes, your doctor can check with one of several simple blood glucose tests:

  • A1C – measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. Normal A1C is less than 5.7 percent; prediabetes is 5.7 to 6.4 percent; and diabetes is 6.5 percent or higher.
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) – checks your blood glucose levels after fasting for at least eight hours. Normal FPG results are lass than 100 mg/dl; prediabetes is 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl; and diabetes is 126 mg/dl or higher.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) – a two-hour test that checks your blood glucose levels before and two hours after you drink a special sugary drink. Normal OGTT results are less than 140 mg/dl; prediabetes is 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl; and diabetes is 200 mg/dl or higher.

5. What should I do if I’m diagnosed with prediabetes? 

First of all, don’t panic. “Think of prediabetes as an early warning system,” said Cathy Thomas, Novant Health diabetes educator. “This condition does not automatically turn into type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Simple lifestyle changes can stop or reverse the effects of prediabetes.”


Cutting back on calories and fat, losing weight and increasing your daily exercise are all great places to start. Work with your doctor to find a wellness plan tailored to your situation. Some prediabetics can benefit from certain medications in addition to lifestyle changes, so be sure to discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor.


Once you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, get your blood glucose levels checked at least once a year. You should also get screened for related conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.


6. Where can I learn more about prediabetes? 

The following resources are great places to start your prediabetes research:

Download a handout with more information from the American Diabetes Association here


Published: 10/10/2014