Why Screen for and Treat Prediabetes

Prediabetes represents a state of increased health risk that is defined by elevated blood glucose in addition to other health risks, such as high blood pressure, abnormal blood cholesterol, and other obesity-related conditions. Identifying patients with prediabetes has important benefits for individuals as well as health systems. Screening for prediabetes and intervening before a patient has progressed to type 2 diabetes offers a host of benefits:

  • Better patient outcomes:
    • Successful lifestyle changes resulting in 5 to 7 percent weight loss and increased physical activity can improve patients’ health-related quality of life while helping them to avoid missed work days, reduce medication needs for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and avoid the psychosocial stress associated with developing type 2 diabetes.
    • Because patients who progress from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes assume an even greater risk for cardiovascular disease, microvascular disease, and other co-morbidities, knowing one’s risk status and taking early action to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes can have numerous long-term benefits. The first step is completing a screening test.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Interventions for prediabetes are highly cost-effective.1,2
  • Improved population health: The lifetime risk of diabetes diagnosis for Americans is 40%, meaning two out of every five American adults may be diagnosed.3 Continuing to provide high quality care for a growing number of people with diabetes will add to existing demands on health care teams and systems. Successfully helping patients with prediabetes to attain normal blood glucose levels or prevent or delay progression to type 2 diabetes is likely to reduce future demands on health care teams and systems, allowing them to experience higher quality and better outcomes for the fewer numbers of other patients already living with diabetes.
  • Recognition and referral: Identifying prediabetes and offering or referring high-risk people to interventions and support are consistent with evidence-based guidelines for preventive care and constitute important ways of assisting patients and families in self-care management—both of which are necessary for providers and practices to seek and receive recognition from National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient-Centered Medical Home.4

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