Prediabetes can damage your health; know all complications | Health - Hindustan Times

Prediabetes can damage your health; know all the complications, prevention tips from experts

By, New Delhi
Apr 14, 2023 11:58 AM IST

It's time to take prediabetes seriously as the condition can put you at increased risk of nerve damage, heart attack, stroke and more.

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes and relieved that it's not at least diabetes, you may be surprised to know that while the condition is very much reversible and less risky than the dreaded diabetes, it can still cause a lot of damage and even result in life-threatening complications if not nipped in the bud. For the uninitiated, prediabetes is defined as the condition where your blood glucose levels are not in the normal range and are elevated, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, the metabolic disorder that is one of the fastest growing lifestyle diseases in the world. When your fasting blood glucose is between 100 to 125 mg/dL or HbA1c is between 5.7 to 6.4, then you have prediabetes. You can have prediabetes for years without knowing about it or its symptoms. (Also read: Ways to prevent prediabetes from escalating to Type-2 diabetes)

Persistent high blood sugar levels in the blood even if they are in prediabetes range, can cause nerve damage.(Freepik)
Persistent high blood sugar levels in the blood even if they are in prediabetes range, can cause nerve damage.(Freepik)

Persistent high blood sugar levels in the blood even if they are in prediabetes range, can cause nerve damage. A study found out that neuropathy in eyes can begin long before diabetes diagnosis. Neuropathy is a diabetes complication that can damage nerves in legs, feet, hands and even eyes and cause pain and numbness. A person with prediabetes is almost at the same risk of heart attack if compared to a person with diabetes, says another study. Obesity is at the root cause of these dangers and people with prediabetes are more likely to be obese than those who have normal sugar levels and are thus at risk of many chronic diseases.

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Dr. V. Mohan – Chairman and Chief Diabetologist of Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre says prediabetes is a stage between normal glucose tolerance and diabetes and a person with this condition is at risk of several diseases including diabetes.


People with prediabetes are more prone to develop diabetes than people who have normal glucose tolerance. Secondly, the risk of developing myocardial infarction (heart attack) is almost the same as if one has overt diabetes. Thirdly, people with prediabetes often have other associated conditions like obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemia (increased cholesterol, triglycerides etc). People with prediabetes may develop the complications of diabetes just like people with diabetes, although the risk may be smaller. For example, people with prediabetes can develop neuropathy (affection of the nerves), retinopathy (affection of the eye) and diabetic kidney disease. Although the risk and the percentage of people who develop these complications would be much lower than those with overt diabetes," says Dr Mohan while explaining all the complications people with prediabetes can develop if their blood sugar levels are not in check.


"Finally, people with prediabetes are also at increased risk of developing certain infections like urinary infections, genital infections, and tuberculosis etc. For these reasons, prediabetes should be diagnosed and treated and kept under control. It is possible to revert prediabetes to a normal glucose tolerance stage. This can be achieved by diet, exercise and weight reduction in obese people," adds Dr Mohan.

"Evidence increasingly demonstrates that prediabetes in addition to being a risk factor for diabetes is also associated with pathophysiological changes in several tissues and organs. Studies have reported an increase in the risk of complications such as neuropathy, nephropthy, retinopathy, cardiovascular diseases and stroke. However, researchers have shown that lifestyle modifications can halt the progression of prediabetes to diabetes and can also revert to normal. Following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight can assist in maintaining normal blood glucose levels," says Dr Anupam Biswas- Consultant, Endocrinology, Fortis hospital, Noida.


"Prediabetes occurs due to insulin resistance in the body, which is the common cause for diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, PCOS, heart disease, and stroke. Prediabetes can progress to full-blown diabetes if not taken care of aggressively. It is also a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Prediabetes can be reversed with a healthy lifestyle, which includes dietary modifications and regular physical exercise, weight loss, and sometimes with medications. If you already have certain risk factors for diabetes, like being overweight or having a family history of diabetes you must keep a check for prediabetes so that you can take the necessary steps at the right time to avoid or delay diabetes," says Dr. Navneet Agrawal, Chief Clinical Officer, BeatO.

"Lifestyle modification is the key to all these issues. Increased physical activity to achieve ideal body weight, cutting down on processed fat rich diet, smoking cessation, abstaining from alcohol are important. More fruits and vegetables in the diet and cutting down on red meat intake is good for all people with prediabetes," says Dr. Sundari Shrikant, Director, Internal Medicine, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad.

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