About 1 in 3 American adults have so-called pre-diabetes, a 39 percent jump over 2008 estimates, the U.S. reported. The condition signals higher-than-normal blood sugar, and can lead to diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
Pre-diabetes now affects about 79 million people in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report. Almost 26 million Americans have diabetes, though about 7 million are undiagnosed, the Atlanta-based agency said.
Half of Americans aged 65 and older have pre-diabetes, and more than a quarter are diabetic, the CDC said. The higher estimate was determined using a new method for testing blood sugar levels, which may capture more people, the agency said.
“These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease,” said Ann Albright, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, in the agency’s statement.
People develop type 2 diabetes because their bodies don’t use insulin properly, so the amount of blood sugar increases, according to the National Institutes of Health. High blood sugar damages nerves and blood cells, leading to heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections and amputations.
People who are pre-diabetic are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the NIH. Most people with pre-diabetes develop diabetes within 10 years unless they lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight. That’s 10 to 15 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds.