Diabetes Risk and Menopause: Know Your Numbers!




Staying on top of your health with regular physician checkups and lab tests are critical during and after menopause. The sugar we obtain from food and drink is broken down to use as energy by insulin hormone released from the pancreas. Type II diabetes is a very common metabolic disorder where the glucose (blood sugar) becomes resistant to insulin and is used less efficiently as energy. After menopause, surplus glucose circulates in the bloodstream or is stored as abdominal fat. Left unchecked, excess glucose is toxic and can progress to organ damage, including cardiac disease.

Often women ignore their own health in midlife while caring for others, exercising less, stressing more, working more, and consuming quick and easy (but not so healthy) meals. The hormone changes associated with menopause predispose women to altered insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism increasing their risk for Type II diabetes.





The gold standard for diagnosing diabetes is the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) blood test.

It shows how much glucose is circulating in the blood at its lowest level during the day after several hours of not eating or drinking anything but water. Here are the current guidelines for diagnosing diabetes using FPG lab values from the American Diabetes Association:



Normal: less than 100 mg/dl

Prediabetic:  100-125 mg/dl

Diabetes: 126 mg/dl or higher





It is possible to have a normal FPG and still spike unhealthy glucose levels later in the day after you have eaten. There can be many reasons for this, including inflammation, medications, or other health problems. The A1c measures the average blood glucose in your body over the last 2-3 months. Together, FPG and A1c provide a more complete picture of overall glucose tolerance. Fasting is not needed for the A1c. Here are the current guidelines for diagnosing diabetes using A1c lab values from the American Diabetes Association:



Normal: less than 5.7%

Prediabetes: 5.7-6.4%

Diabetes: 6.5% or higher


If either test is in the prediabetes range or higher, you may be able to lower your levels through healthy diet, exercise, stress management, and restricting the sweets. Sometimes medication, even short term, helps return your glucose levels to normal range. Menopause is an opportunity to jump-start a healthier future. Ask your practitioner about glucose blood testing to assess your risks for diabetes and take charge of your health. 




Diabetes Risk and Menopause, exercise, health education, healthy lifestyle, menopause, women's health

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