Understanding prediabetes: Simple steps to help prevent type 2 diabetes

A woman enjoys a walk outdoors on a walking path.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 3 adults (approximately 98 million Americans) have prediabetes and more than 80% of those individuals don’t even know they have it.1

But prediabetes doesn’t just impact adults. A 2022 study found that incidences of prediabetes in kids and teens have more than doubled over the past 20 years.

With prediabetes on the rise, here’s what you need to know about it and if you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, here’s how you can help delay or prevent it from progressing to type 2 diabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a serious metabolic condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. If you’re prediabetic, you typically have a fasting blood glucose level between 100mg/dL and 125mg/dL and an A1C between 5.7% and 6.4%.

Prediabetes serves as a warning sign. If you ignore the warning, you may have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future, as well as other serious health issues like heart attack and stroke. However, if you take the warning seriously, you can help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

How do I know if I have prediabetes?

You can have prediabetes for years without any symptoms, so it’s likely you won’t know you have it unless you develop serious health problems or symptoms that suggest you’ve progressed to type 2 diabetes. That’s why it’s so important to get regular checkups and screenings with your primary care physician.

There are simple blood tests to find out if you have prediabetes. They include an A1C test, fasting blood sugar test, and glucose tolerance test. Ask your doctor if you should be tested for prediabetes.

What raises my risk for prediabetes?

There are certain factors that can increase your risk for developing prediabetes:

  • If you’re 45 or older
  • If you have a family history of diabetes
  • If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • If you’ve had gestational diabetes
  • If you have polycystic ovary syndrome
  • If you’re overweight
  • If you’re inactive or exercise less than three times a week

You can also take this 1-minute assessment to help figure out your prediabetes risk.

How can I reverse prediabetes?

Prediabetes is not a one-way street to diabetes. Simple lifestyle changes like improving your diet, managing your weight, getting at least 150 minutes of brisk walking or similar activity a week, quitting smoking, improving sleep, managing stress, and controlling high blood pressure can all make a big difference in delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes.

There are also several CDC-recognized lifestyle change programs to help. Research suggests these programs can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half.2 You can find a program in your area here.

In addition to lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe metformin, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. The medication works by lowering the amount of sugar that the body makes and absorbs. It can also increase insulin sensitivity.

Getting the support you need

You don’t have to go through prediabetes alone. Express Scripts® Pharmacy gives you 24/7 access to specially trained pharmacists who can answer all your questions and concerns regarding prediabetes and any medications you’ve been prescribed. Learn more about our pharmacists.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Prediabetes ‒ Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes (accessed December 29, 2023): cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html.
2 American Diabetes Association: Lifestyle Change Programs (accessed December 29, 2023): diabetes.org/tools-resources/diabetes-education/lifestyle-change-programs.

Posted date: April 08, 2024

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