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 after having a large amount of carbohydrates but not high enough to be diagnosed with 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 as likely as those with diabetes to develop cardiovascular disease, such as 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 waist. This is because carrying extra body fat increases your body’s insulin resistance. 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), or gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds at birth. Some racial and ethnic minority groups were found to be at higher risk. They include Indigenous, Hispanic, East Asian, Southeast Asian, African or South Asian descent. Other factors that may increase your risk is high cholesterol or high blood pressure, or a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome.
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