16 million Americans have impaired glucose tolerance; most don't even know it.
For many people, the holidays are always a good excuse to eat, drink and be merry. But not only do all those Christmas cookies and sweets pack on pounds, they may also contribute to a serious medical condition that most people don't even know they have pre-diabetes.
An estimated 16 million Americans have pre-diabetes, which puts them at higher risk for developing heart disease and full-blown diabetes, according to experts at the University of Maryland Joslin Diabetes Center in Baltimore. People with the condition, also known as impaired glucose tolerance, have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes.
The number of people with pre-diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in this country, said Alan R. Shuldiner, M.D., the director of the Joslin Diabetes Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. But people should know that it can be detected with a simple blood test. Early intervention with modest changes in diet and exercise can actually turn back the clock and return elevated blood glucose levels to the normal range, thereby preventing progression to full-blown diabetes.
Dr. Shuldiner and other researchers at the Joslin Center are also conducting clinical studies looking at medications and other ways to help prevent people with pre-diabetes from developing type 2 diabetes and related cardiovascular problems.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Diabetes Association have urged overweight people, age 45 and older, to be tested for pre-diabetes as well as diabetes.
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