PRE-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugars are above the norm, yet not high enough to constitute actual diabetes.

The complications of established diabetes are an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Cognitive decline, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as sight loss, kidney disease and limb amputation add to the dizzying array of consequences of raised sugars.

Those with established diabetes have also suffered during the pandemic. Death rates are twice as high for those with type 2 diabetes and 3.5 times greater for those with type 1 diabetes.

While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, type 2 diabetes, often labelled a 'lifestyle disease', is commonly marked by a latent period of borderline raised sugar levels. This pre-diabetic state may last years, during which damage is being done to both large and small blood vessels.

Pre diabetes arises due to decreased insulin manufacture and the body’s relative insensitivity to that produced. The pancreas tries to produce more insulin and the liver gets rid of less in the circulation. The pancreas can’t keep up forever and at some point, sugar levels rise to those sufficient to formally diagnose type 2 diabetes. Between 5-10 per cent of those with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 12 months, although the phase can last a decade. While undiagnosed diabetes has many symptoms, pre-diabetes is without indicators.

Recent research has shown that those with pre-diabetes are at a 42 per cent increased risk of mental decline and over twice the risk of vascular dementia. This is sobering news for a condition the sufferer may be blissfully unaware of.

Pre-diabetes, if diagnosed, can also be viewed as a golden opportunity to push sugars back in to the normal range, rather than let them rise to the levels of type 2 diabetes. Authorities on the subject advise that three in five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle measures. Even one sleepless night is enough to affect your glucose (sugar) metabolism, so it really is a case of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Although routine services have undoubtedly been disrupted by the pandemic, I would urge people not to wait, to feel that they are a burden, or to worry that by entering medical facilities, they are more likely to catch Covid. Prevention is always better than cure and it is vital that we address serious conditions sooner rather than later.