With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, home blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.
Prediabetes, characterised by raised blood sugar that is close to, but not yet in, the diabetic range, is a major concern. Because it’s symptomless, people with prediabetes don’t tend to notice a problem until the condition has tipped over into type 2 diabetes, which is 15 times more likely to happen to those living with the condition.
Having a good understanding of our health and wellbeing is important at any age, but different stages of life can change the likelihood of developing particular conditions.
The risk factors you may have at twenty generally look different to those in your 60s, so it’s a good idea to be aware of what to look out for throughout your life, so you can take the best care of yourself.
Here’s what to watch out for …
People with prediabetes are thought to be up to fifteen times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Diabetes UK estimates that around 13.5 million people – a quarter of adults in the UK – fall into this category.
Within this decade, it’s predicted that one in ten British adults will have type 2 diabetes, a disease that the NHS currently spends £10 billion on treating every year.
An increasingly young disease
We may think of diabetes as a condition which affects older people. But, thanks to our diets and lifestyles, this is not the case. It’s estimated that around 122,000 people under 40 in England and Wales have type 2 diabetes. A figure set to increase massively if we don’t take steps to reduce our risk factors.
For an increasingly young population of people living with type 2 diabetes, it can mean a lifetime on medication.
Long-term uncontrolled high blood sugar can cause a wide range of problems throughout the body, from blindness to kidney failure. It can lead to erectile dysfunction, wounds which won’t heal, and chronic infections which require amputation. Those with the condition are also far more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, or dementia.
Prediabetes itself isn’t just an indicator of future problems. It carries its own health risks.
Those with prediabetic blood sugar levels are more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes. Some even experience eye or kidney damage, which may be linked to excess fat, rather than blood sugar levels.
By spotting prediabetes and taking steps to reduce the risks, it’s possible to prevent illness before it starts. But how can we do that with a condition which had no visible symptoms until it’s too late?
Fortunately, there are plenty of pre-emptive steps you can take, without the need for medication or treatments. Simple lifestyle adjustments can be enough to turn the tide of your health.
Look at your weight …
By far, the biggest risk factor for prediabetes is high body fat. Fat which accumulates around the organs can cause problems with how cells respond to insulin, which in turn impacts blood sugar control.
Checking your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good way to understand if this could be a risk factor for you. Those with a BMI of 30 or above are around 80 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy BMI.
… and your waist
Along with weight, waist size is another good factor to determine diabetes risk. Excess fat close to or in the organs, such as the liver, significantly disrupts insulin function.
To reduce the risk, men should have a waist measurement of less than 37 inches, while women should keep to 31½ inches.
Research your family health history
For some people, their ethnic background or genes put them at higher risk.
People from South Asia, the Middle East and those with African and Caribbean heritage are thought to be more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of the way their bodies store and process fat.
Additionally, anyone whose mother, father or sibling has type 2 diabetes is also up to 200% more likely to develop it.
Prevention is better than the cure
Checking in on our health is so important. Many conditions which go on to be serious and debilitating, if caught early, are easily managed through diet or lifestyle changes, supplements, or a temporary course of treatment.
When it comes to diabetes, early intervention is the best way to ward off the disease. Understanding your risk factors for pre-diabetes can help you take the right steps to improve your diet and lifestyle to help reduce your chances of developing diabetes.
A simple home test
With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, private blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.
Our home HbA1c test is a simple way to understand your blood sugar levels, and in turn, your risk of prediabetes.
The test measures levels of glycated haemoglobin – sugar that has stuck to red blood cells, which gives a good indication of average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months.
This test is available as a finger prick or vacutainer sample collection option. You can also choose to visit a BMI Hospital, a participating Superdrug or have a nurse home visit.