What is prediabetes and Causes of prediabetes?
Prediabetes is when your blood glucose level is above normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes mellitus is a warning to pay attention to.
The concept of ‘ prediabetes’ includes the presence of an altered basal glucose level in the fasting state –it is the value of blood glucose in the morning before breaking the fast–, of intolerance to glucose –having high blood glucose values after giving an oral glucose overload – or both conditions at the same time.
All situations imply a very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and suffering cardiovascular complications, such as myocardial infarction or cerebral stroke. It is closely related to insulin resistance.
Both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus in which results if measures are not taken, such as insulin resistance, obesity, or hypertension, are diseases closely related to lifestyle in modern societies, in which the A sedentary lifestyle and inadequate eating habits have caused up to 25-50% of adults in Europe and the US to suffer from these types of problems.
The danger of prediabetes is not so much the altered blood glucose level itself as the fact that it can lead to the development of diabetes, in addition to being associated with obesity and other cardiovascular risk factors, which in the long term make the person have a high risk of having a myocardial infarction, a cerebral stroke, or problems in the circulation of blood in the legs (finally reaching amputations in long-standing diabetics) or even erectile dysfunction in men.
Fortunately, prediabetes can be avoided, and if it appears, it can be reversed without developing diabetes mellitus. How? With lifestyle adjustments, especially by eating healthier and moving more.
Causes of prediabetes
Prediabetes is related in a very narrow way with insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas (in groups of cells called Langerhans islets). It allows glucose by cells of the body to produce energy or stored in the liver, muscle, or fat, thus lowering blood glucose levels after a meal.
When insulin resistance occurs, it means that the body produces insulin but does not use it properly, so it has to make more and more, and there comes a time when it is not enough to lower blood glucose levels. Finally, if means are not put in place to avoid it, a situation of prediabetes or frank diabetes can appear.
Insulin resistance and prediabetes occur in a multifactorial manner. The most important causes that favor its appearance are:
Excess weight: obesity, especially if it is an accumulation of abdominal fat, is a major cause of insulin resistance and prediabetes. Adipose tissue – fat – produces hormones and other substances that can cause insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, changes in cholesterol and triglycerides, and cardiovascular disease. Also, a chronic inflammatory state of the body occurs.
Sedentary lifestyle: the absence of physical activity prevents the muscles from expending excess glucose and favors excess weight.
Other causes of prediabetes and insulin resistance are smoking, corticosteroid medications, aging, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, family history, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
The first two factors are closely related to diet and lifestyle habits. Consuming an excess of sugars is closely linked to being overweight, especially in a diet with few vegetables. High alcohol consumption also does not favor the metabolic profile of a person with these types of problems. The absence of sufficient physical activity makes the problem worse.
Symptoms of prediabetes
Prediabetes produces no symptoms. A person can have prediabetes for many years and not be aware of the problem. However, a series of conditions can warn about the risk of suffering from prediabetes, making it advisable to carry out a simple analytical determination to rule it out.
The following population groups are at risk of having prediabetes, and therefore should be screened:
- Those over 45 years of age.
- Children or siblings of people with diabetes.
- In the case of women, the fact of having given birth to a baby of more than 4,500 g or having suffered from gestational diabetes. Also, in those who have polycystic ovary syndrome.
- People who are overweight, especially if it is at the expense of accumulation of abdominal fat. It is considered a risk value to have a waist circumference greater than 95 cm in men and greater than 82 cm in women.
- Individuals with high blood pressure increased cholesterol and triglycerides, or fatty liver (hepatic steatosis).
- People who use certain drugs such as corticosteroids or antipsychotics.
All of these factors are not symptoms of prediabetes. They are conditions associated with the appearance of insulin resistance and prediabetes. In all these situations, a basal glucose determination should be carried out as a screening, with subsequent monitoring at least every four years or more if necessary, because it can prevent prediabetes from progressing to a situation of type 2 diabetes mellitus.