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Ask Dr. Gott 6/16
Prediabetic: What does it mean?
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: Last spring, my doctor ran blood tests and told me I had a high cholesterol level and was prediabetic.
    What does prediabetic actually mean, and what foods do I have to watch out for? I have done away with such things as chocolate, ice cream and sweets. I don't want to develop diabetes, so what exactly should I do?
    DEAR READER: Prediabetes is a condition marked by a tendency toward mildly elevated blood-sugar levels. It can be treated easily (before it progresses into frank diabetes) by losing weight and avoiding sweets. Once you have committed yourself to these changes, you should have regular blood-sugar monitoring. Since you have already taken steps to eliminate sweets from your diet, you are clearly on your way toward better control of your sugar levels. After a few months, return to your physician for a repeat blood test to see whether your efforts have been successful. If the results are not to your liking, work with your physician and follow his or her advice.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Diabetes Mellitus." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: My husband and I are both coming up on 80 years of age. About every six to eight weeks, I have to call 911 because he can't get any oxygen. When he goes to the hospital, they give him between 2 and 4 pints of blood. I bring him home and we repeat the pattern all over again.
    This last time they did every test in the world -- blood work, MRI, CT scan, chest X-ray -- and still found no bleeding. They said his heart and lungs are fine. He has been on blood-pressure medication, and our family doctor has that under control. His blood doctor is set to give my husband a $200 shot but might change to give him Procrit instead. A bone-marrow test did not find any iron in the marrow. He's not making any blood, just using it up. Do you have any thoughts on the matter?
    DEAR READER: I am concerned that the cause of your husband's chronic iron-deficiency anemia has yet to be identified. Ordinarily, iron deficiency is secondary to blood loss. This appears to have been ruled out in his case.
    The basic issue appears to be low iron intake — or his body is not absorbing enough of the mineral from his diet.
    The safest and most logical next step is for your husband to be given large amounts of supplemental iron. The anemia should be monitored by a hematologist so you won't need to take your husband to the hospital every two months for transfusions.
    The second step is to obtain a second opinion from another hematologist.
    Based on the limited information in your letter, I worry that your husband's current doctors appear to be missing something important. Perhaps you should review your concerns with them.

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