A simple blood test that indicates average blood sugar levels over the past several weeks is the best way to diagnose diabetes, and doctors can abandon older, clumsier tests, diabetes experts said.
The A1C test, which does not require fasting, is the best and easiest way to diagnose diabetes, the American Diabetes Association, International Diabetes Federation and European Association for the Study of Diabetes agreed.
They made their endorsement at a meeting in New Orleans. “(This is) the first major departure from the way we diagnose diabetes in 30 years,” Dr David Nathan or Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital told a news briefing.
The test measures damage to hemoglobin, the stuff that makes blood red, that is done by consistently high blood sugar levels. A hemoglobin A1C level of 5 percent is considered normal. The groups agreed that a level of 6.5 percent or higher should lead to a diagnosis of diabetes.
Most doctors use one of two tests to diagnose diabetes — fasting plasma glucose or the oral glucose tolerance test. Both require the patient to prepare, either by fasting or by drinking a sugary solution.
The A1C test requires only a small sample of blood. “Testing for diabetes using A1C is more convenient and easier for patients who will no longer be required to perform a fasting or oral glucose tolerance test,” Nathan said.
The American Diabetes Association recommends screening all adults for diabetes who are overweight and have additional risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. And even people with none of these risk factors should be tested beginning at age 45.
Diabetes can cause heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and force amputations. Most cases are type 2 diabetes, linked with a lack of exercise and poor diet.
SourceL The Daily Star, June 20, 2009