What is impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)?
IGT means that the body has become less sensitive to the effects of insulin, and has to work harder to control blood glucose levels. A person with IGT has blood sugar (glucose) levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to say they have diabetes. As in type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but there may be less of it, or it may not work properly.
People with IGT are not only at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, but are also 50% more likely to develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels – factors that contribute to heart disease and stroke.
A friend of mine has insulin resistance… is this the same as IGT?
No, not necessarily. Insulin resistance occurs when the body stops responding as well to insulin. To compensate, the body makes more insulin. But because the body doesn’t respond as well to insulin, the higher insulin levels cannot control blood glucose as effectively. As insulin resistance increases, blood sugar levels will rise and diabetes can eventually result.
Who is at risk of developing IGT?
People that are extremely overweight or obese are at risk of developing IGT, especially those people carrying extra weight around their middle. This is because carrying extra body fat inhibits the effects of insulin. With weight loss, glucose levels will likely return to normal levels. Because there is less resistance to insulin, more glucose is transported from the blood into tissue cells. Losing weight will also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Your risk of developing IGT and type 2 diabetes also increases if you are physically inactive, have a family history of diabetes, have had gestational diabetes (i.e. having diabetes while pregnant), gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds at birth, are of Native, Hispanic, Asian, African, or Pacific Island descent, have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, or regularly sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per day.
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