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Prediabetes occurs when your body isn't able to keep your sugar (glucose) at a normal level. Your blood sugar is higher than normal, but it's not high enough to be diabetes.
The food you eat turns into blood sugar, which your body uses for energy. Normally, the pancreas makes insulin, which allows the sugar in blood to get into the body's cells. But when your body can't use insulin the right way, the sugar doesn't move into cells. It stays in your blood instead. This is called insulin resistance.
The buildup of sugar in the blood causes prediabetes. If your blood sugar stays too high for too long, prediabetes can turn into type 2 diabetes.
People who are overweight, aren't physically active, and have a family history of diabetes are more likely to get prediabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes are also more likely to get prediabetes.
Most of the time, prediabetes has no symptoms. But if you have prediabetes, you need to watch for signs of type 2 diabetes, such as:
Prediabetes is a warning sign that you are at risk for getting type 2 diabetes.
It is estimated that 7 out of 10 people who have prediabetes will get type 2 diabetes.1 Studies have shown that by losing weight and increasing physical activity, people can prevent or delay prediabetes from becoming diabetes.2
Over time, high blood sugar levels increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease, even if you're still healthy. Compared to people with normal blood sugar levels, people with prediabetes have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.3
When you have prediabetes, you're also at higher risk for eye, nerve, kidney and heart disease, and for stroke. For more information on these complications, see the topic Type 2 Diabetes.
You can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and related health problems by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
For more information, see Prevention.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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