Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctors: Do I have diabetes?

Q. I am 58 years old and in pretty good health, but at 120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), my blood glucose test was a little high on my last routine physical. My physician told me not to worry about it, but I am wondering if I should get screened for diabetes with some other test.

A. Your concern that your glucose level may be evidence that you have diabetes or are headed in that direction is legitimate. Type 2 diabetes is very common in people of your age and older, and it tends to be preceded by a long period of "prediabetes," in which glucose levels are mildly elevated. Research has shown that the risk of progression to diabetes can be prevented through lifestyle modifications, which would likely reduce your risk of complications of diabetes, including cardiovascular disease.

I am wondering whether you have any symptoms of high glucose, such as frequent urination or constant thirst? If not, then I would assess your risks for both diabetes and heart disease. You should also talk with your doctor about performing a simple blood test for hemoglobin A1c. This test will provide insight into your glucose level over the past 90 days.

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