Prediabetes – or borderline diabetes – is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but they haven’t yet reached a point where they are could be classed as diabetes.
According to Diabetes UK, there are an estimated seven million people in the UK who have it.
The condition is on the rise, with rates in England alone more than tripling between 2003 and 2011.
While it doesn’t yet mean a diabetes diagnosis, sufferers are at risk of another serious condition.
A new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has revealed that it is a major predictor of metabolic syndrome.
This is a cluster of conditions, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol and excess body fat around the waist, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Having metabolic syndrome, and prediabetes, could raise your risk of suffering heart disease and stroke.
Researchers have identified three specific molecules that could accurately indicate prediabetes.
Looking out for these molecules could lead to earlier detection of prediabetes in humans, enabling doctors to provide more effective treatments.
Dr Jacqueline Stöckli, from the University of Sydney, said that the findings show there are multiple factors that probably contribute to prediabetes.
She suggested that this could be why more traditional approaches don’t always spot the condition.
“Our study identified a three molecule signature that was able to diagnose insulin resistance or pre-diabetes, a condition that is often associated with diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure,” she explained.
“But we know the story is much more complicated; strikingly, each of the three molecules on their own was considerably less predictive of pre-diabetes than when combined.”
According to Diabetes UK, many people with prediabetes are unaware they have it.
In many cases, a sufferer is only aware they have it when symptoms of type 2 appear, such as fatigue and excessive thirst.
Risk factors for prediabetes include being overweight, having high blood pressure and being over the age of 40 years.