Pre-diabetes precedes the onset of type 2 diabetes. People who have pre-diabetes have fasting blood glucose levels that are 100 - 125 mg/dL -- higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. (Pre-diabetes used to be referred to as “impaired glucose tolerance.”) Pre-diabetes greatly increases the risk for diabetes.
Treatment of pre-diabetes is very important. Research shows that lifestyle and medical interventions can help prevent, or at least delay, the progression to diabetes. While doctors sometimes prescribe insulin-regulating drugs such as metformin (Glucophage) and acarbose (Precose), evidence indicates that lifestyle changes can be at least as effective as drug therapy. The most important lifestyle treatment for people with pre-diabetes is to lose weight through diet and regular exercise. Even a modest weight loss of 10 - 15 pounds can significantly reduce the risk of progressing to diabetes.
Because people with pre-diabetes have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, diet and exercise are also very important for heart health, as is quitting smoking. It is also important to have your doctor check your cholesterol and blood pressure levels on a regular basis. Your doctor should also check your fasting blood glucose levels every 1 - 2 years.
The major treatment goals for people with type 2 diabetes are:
Treat all conditions that place patients at risk for heart disease and stroke, the major killers of people with type 2 diabetes.
Control blood glucose levels. The goal is to achieve fasting blood glucose levels of less than 110 mg/dL and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels of less than 7%. The objective is to reduce complications in small blood vessels and the nerve damage associated with diabetes.
In general, most people with type 2 diabetes should aim for HbA1c levels of less than 7%. However, patients who have heart disease or cardiovascular risk factors should talk to their doctor about individualized treatment goals for intensive blood sugar control.
An intensive multi-pronged approach is critical for reducing complications and improving survival rates in patients with diabetes. Intensive therapy includes:
Healthy lifestyle changes: Regular exercise, heart-healthy diet, quitting smoking.
Controlling blood sugar levels. Monitor blood sugar and hemoglobin HbA1c levels. Oral anti-hyperglycemic drugs such as metformin are first-line drug treatments. Insulin may eventually be needed.
Heart-protective drugs. These medications include various drugs to control high blood pressure (such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics) and cholesterol (statins and fibrates). Controlling high blood pressure is a proven factor in reducing mortality rates. Aspirin helps prevent blood clots and heart attack.