In pre-diabetes, blood sugar levels are slightly higher than normal, but still not as high as in diabetes. If diabetes is "runaway blood sugar" think of pre-diabetes as blood sugar that is "halfway out the door."
People almost always develop pre-diabetes before they get type 2 diabetes. The rise in blood sugar levels that is seen in pre-diabetes starts when the body begins to develop a problem called "insulin resistance." Insulin is an important hormone that helps you to process glucose (blood sugar). If usual amounts of insulin can't trigger the body to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells, then you have insulin resistance.
Having pre-diabetes does not automatically mean you will get diabetes, but it does put you at an increased risk. Pre-diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease. Like people with type 2 diabetes, those with pre-diabetes tend to be overweight, have high blood pressure and have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.