Diabetes Glossary

Browse or search for definitions from our comprehensive list of diabetes terms.

Browse Glossary: "m"



abnormally large; in diabetes, refers to abnormally large babies that may be born to women with diabetes.

macrovascular disease


Disease of the large blood vessels, such as those found in the heart. Lipids and blood clots build up in the large blood vessels and can cause atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.



the part of the retina in the eye used for reading and seeing fine detail.

macular edema

MACK-yoo-lur eh-DEE-mah

swelling of the macula.

maturity-onset diabetes of the young


a kind of type 2 diabetes that accounts for 1 to 5 percent of people with diabetes. Of the six forms identified, each is caused by a defect in a single gene.



a class of oral medicine for type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin right after meals. (Generic name: repaglinide.)

metabolic syndrome

the tendency of several conditions to occur together, including obesity , insulin resistance , diabetes or pre-diabetes , hypertension , and high lipids.


the term for the way cells chemically change food so that it can be used to store or use energy and make the proteins , fats , and sugars needed by the body.



an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and helping the body respond better to the insulin made in the pancreas. Belongs to the class of medicines called biguanides. (Brand names: Glucophage, Glucophage XR; an ingredient in Glucovance.)


milligrams er (DESS-ih-lee-tur), a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid. In the United States, blood glucose test results are reported as mg/dL. Medical journals and other countries use millimoles per liter (mmol/L ). To convert to mg/dL from mmol/L, multiply mmol/L by 18. Example: 10 mmol/L × 18 = 180 mg/dL.



small amounts of the protein called albumin in the urine detectable with a special lab test.



a small swelling that forms on the side of tiny blood vessels. These small swellings may break and allow blood to leak into nearby tissue. People with diabetes may get microaneurysms in the retina of the eye.


see glyburide.

microvascular disease


disease of the smallest blood vessels , such as those found in the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The walls of the vessels become abnormally thick but weak. Then they bleed, leak protein , and slow the flow of blood to the cells.



an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It blocks the enzymes that digest starches in food. The result is a slower and lower rise in blood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. Belongs to the class of medicines called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. (Brand name: Glyset.)

mixed dose

a combination of two types of insulin in one injection. Usually a rapid - or short-acting insulin is combined with a longer acting insulin


millimoles per liter, a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid. In most of the world, except for the United States, blood glucose test results are reported as mmol/L. In the United States, milligrams per deciliter


see blood glucose meter.


a short piece of nylon, like a hairbrush bristle, mounted on a wand. To check sensitivity of the nerves in the foot, the doctor touches the filament to the bottom of the foot.



neuropathy affecting a single nerve.

monounsaturated fats

are fatty acids that have a single double bond in the fatty acid chain and all of the remainder of the carbon atoms in the chain are single-bonded.

morbidity rate

the sickness rate; the number of people who are sick or have a disease compared with the number of people who are well.

myocardial infarction

my-oh-KAR-dee-ul in-FARK-shun

an interruption in the blood supply to the heart because of narrowed or blocked blood vessels. Also called a heart attack.


    Our glossary includes and builds on the definitions found in The Diabetes Dictionary (NIH Publication No. 07-3016, October 2006) published by the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, which is available on their website and is not copyrighted. The Clearinghouse encourages users of this publication to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.

    The U.S. Government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or company. Trade, proprietary, or company names appearing in this document are used only because they are considered essential in the context of the information provided.

    The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For more information, visit their website at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.