GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The most recent data on prediabetes from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that more than one in three U.S. adults had the health condition in 2019.

We spoke with a nurse about preventing prediabetes and its progression to type 2 diabetes, in this week’s “Ask the Expert” report, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis.

When a person has prediabetes, their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.

According to the CDC, 96 million, or more than one in three adults in the U.S., have a diagnosis of prediabetes.

Allison Harrold, a wellness outreach nurse, said “About 80% of those people are unaware,” that they have prediabetes.

She said it’s pretty common for someone to be prediabetic and have no idea because typically there are no symptoms.

She said that’s why it’s important to be aware of the risk factors.

“The main risk factors for prediabetes are considered to be overweight and physical inactivity. Both of those things are linked to insulin resistance. That’s when our body can’t respond or use insulin as well. Then, other risk factors for prediabetes include being over the age of 45, having a family member like a parent or sibling with a diagnosis of prediabetes, having hypertension, smoking, sleep apnea, having gestational diabetes or diabetes when you are pregnant, or having a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS.”

Allison Harrold, Wellness Outreach Nurse, Bon Secours St. Francis

If you have any of these risk factors, nurse Harrold said to consider regular visits with your doctor to screen for prediabetes.

Left untreated, prediabetes can progress to type 2 diabetes but also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Harrold said lifestyle changes are the number one treatment for someone who is prediabetic.

“So that’s healthy eating, physical activity, and losing weight if you are overweight. There are certain medications that may also be prescribed to reduce the risk of developing diabetes,” said Harrold.

She said to make sure your diet includes lean proteins, healthy carbs, rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts, and exercise for 150 minutes, at moderate intensity, every week.

The CDC offers a 1-minute online test for you to learn your risk of prediabetes. People with high scores are directed to their doctor to confirm the result. Click here to access that test.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.