If your doctor says your blood glucose levels are a little high, it's worth taking steps to control them, even temporarily. A study published online this week in the Lancet shows that can help prevent diabetes.
A multicenter team of U.S. investigators looked at 2,761 "prediabetic" patients--those with high-normal blood glucose levels--who took a placebo, made lifestyle changes, or took metformin, a drug used to control blood-glucose levels.
After more than five years, the 894 people who had at least one normal oral glucose tolerance test had a 56 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than those who never gained normal control of their sugar. It didn't matter whether people got control through lifestyle changes or drugs.
"One should not take prediabetes with complacency and wait for 'the other shoe to fall,'" says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports chief medical adviser. "With aggressive treatment in the form of lifestyle changes or the use of insulin sensitizers, normal glucose regulation can be achieved and diabetes may be prevented."
Bottom line: If you have prediabetes (fasting blood sugars between 111 and 125 mgm/dl), you should be proactive in requesting treatment. If lifestyle changes fail to normalize your blood glucose, discuss the risks and benefits of drug therapy with your physician.
See our report on diabetes and our Ratings of blood-glucose meters.
"Effect of regression from prediabetes to normal glucose regulation on long-term reduction in diabetes risk: Results from the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study" [The Lancet]