Study recommends better diabetes screening

6/2/2008

NORWALK, Conn. According to a new study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, better screenings and diagnosis for diabetes is being called for to help the 6.2 million Americans who don’t realize they have the disease, according to Forbes.

Many diabetics go undiagnosed, because the most common diagnostic tests require the patient fast, said study author Christopher Saudek, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. People who have eaten on the day of a doctor visit most likely will not be diagnosed unless they have quite advanced diabetes.

Instead, the panel suggests incorporating different measurement of glucose, hemoglobin A1c into the criteria. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein located in red blood cells. HbA1c is a form of hemoglobin that reflects the average blood glucose level over the previous several months. It has been used for a long time to indicate blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes but never as a screening or diagnostic tool.

Although the American Diabetes Association rejected use of HbA1c as a tool a decade ago, the panel said that most recent evidence of its strength means it is time to revisit adopting its use. Also, HbA1c does not require fasting.

The panel recommends that HbA1c levels greater than 6 percent would require patient follow-up; HbA1c greater than or equal to 6.5 percent confirmed by a glucose-dependent test would establish the diagnosis of diabetes.

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