Diseases & Conditions

Understanding Pre-diabetes

What is pre-diabetes?

People with blood sugar levels higher than normal but lower than values for diabetes are considered to have pre-diabetes. Research shows that most people with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

It is recommended that you be tested for pre-diabetes if either of the following applies:

  • You are overweight and older than 45 years of age.
  • You are overweight and under the age of 45, but have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or high blood lipids (fat);
  • You are African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, or Asian or Arabs;
  • You have a history of gestational diabetes; or have given birth to a baby weighing 4.1 kilograms (9 pounds) or more.

Making healthy changes

Making healthy changes in your diet and physical activity has been shown to delay or prevent diabetes and other health problems.

How is pre-diabetes diagnosed?

A fasting blood sugar test is performed after you have had nothing by mouth (eating or drinking) for 10-12 hours. Normal fasting blood sugar is between 70 and 99 mg/dl (3.9 5.5 mmol/L) for people who do not have diabetes. A normal random blood sugar result is between 70 and 140 mg/dl (3.9 7.8 mg/L). The diagnosis of pre-diabetes is made when two blood tests show that your fasting blood sugar level is between 100 and 125 mg/dl (5.6 6.9 mmol/L), or if two random (anytime) blood sugar tests are greater than or equal to 140 (7.8), but below 200 (11.1).

Fasting Glucose Test
Normal Less than 100
Pre-Diabetes 100 - 125
Diabetes 126 or higher
Random (Anytime) Glucose Test
Normal Less than 140
Pre-Diabetes 140 - 199
Diabetes Greater than 200
Normal Less than 5.7%
Pre-Diabetes 5.7 - 6.4%
Diabetes Greater than 6.5%

How is pre-diabetes treated?

The first step is to lose weight. You can achieve this through diet and increased physical activity. Also, talk with your doctor and other healthcare professionals about your treatment plan and goals.


You hold the key to managing your pre-diabetes by:

  • Planning what you eat and following a balanced meal plan.
  • Increasing physical activity.
  • Taking your medicine, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines on how and when to take it.
  • Monitoring your blood sugar as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Keeping your appointments with your healthcare provider.
  • Monitoring your blood pressure (Your target blood pressure is less than 130/80.)
Cholesterol Guidelines
Total cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dl (5.2 mmol/L)
LDL cholesterol Less than 100 mg/dl (2.6 mmol/L)
HDL cholesterol Greater than 45 mg/dl (1.2 mmol?L) in males
Greater than 55 m/dl (1.4 mmol/L) in females
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dl (1.7 mmol/L)

If you have pre-diabetes, you can slow the progression to Type 2 diabetes by 54 percent by following a healthy diet, losing weight (if applicable), and exercising.

Source: American Diabetes Association.

© Copyright 2017 Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala Healthcare, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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