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Prediabetes vs. Diabetes


Eighty-four million Americans are affected by prediabetes. Prediabetes means your blood sugar is higher than it should be, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

What are signs of prediabetes?

Prediabetes usually has no signs or symptoms. Talk to your doctor about prediabetes if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than three times a week
  • History of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome

Race and ethnicity are also a factor: African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.

How do I get tested?

Your doctor can use a blood test to see if your blood sugars are within the normal range or if you are at risk of developing prediabetes/diabetes.

What are the risks of prediabetes?

Without lifestyle changes or interventions, prediabetes can progress to diabetes (usually within 10 years or less). Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious health problems like blindness, amputations, stroke, and heart disease. The good news is that lifestyle changes are highly effective at stopping or slowing the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.

How can I avoid getting prediabetes?

Prediabetes and even diabetes can be controlled or reversed with diet and exercise. Making healthy lifestyle changes like eating better and losing weight are very important.

Want help getting started or need more advice?

UPMC Health Plan members have health coaching available at no cost. Health coaches can help you set and reach goals like eating better, getting more exercise, and losing weight.


Managing diabetes comes with a lot of information to learn and lifestyle changes to figure out. You want to get these numbers into healthy ranges:

  • Weight
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood pressure

What are the risks?

The complications of diabetes are pretty scary: vision loss, kidney disease, and nerve damage for starters. But you can take steps now to slow, reverse, or even prevent the onset of these problems.

Regular screenings can find problems when they are at a more manageable stage. Talk to your health care provider about how often you should have your cholesterol and kidney function checked, as well as exams for your eyes and feet.

Need help getting started or want more advice?

It’s important to know where you can go for help. UPMC Health Plan offers members a choice of diabetes resources, so you can decide what works best for you.

  • Diabetes health coaching: Choose this option if you prefer one-on-one coaching over the phone. There’s no additional cost for speaking with a health coach. To connect with a health coach, ask your doctor for a referral or call a diabetes health coach at 1-866-778-6073 (TTY: 711).
  • Diabetes self-management education: This option will allow you to get detailed information in a classroom from a diabetes educator. You can take the class in an individual or group setting. You’ll learn about blood glucose monitoring, the role of oral medication, lowering risks, healthy eating, and more. A deductible and coinsurance may apply. Ask your doctor for a referral.
  • Registered dietitian: Consider this option if you’d like a personalized meal plan to help control your diabetes. You’ll meet with a registered dietitian and discuss healthy eating options, recipes, and other topics. You may need to pay a deductible or copayment. To connect with a dietitian, ask your doctor for a referral to medical nutrition therapy.
  • Find a facility near you that specializes in diabetes care.
Get one-on-one support to prevent prediabetes or manage diabetes. Call 1-866-778-6073 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m to speak with a health coach or log in to MyHealth OnLine below. TTY users should call toll-free at 711. You can also work with your doctor.