New test to diagnose diabetes

June 6, 2009 11:28:10 AM PDT
There are new guidelines for how doctors should look for diabetes. There's a certain test that some doctors do, but many do not.

Psychologist Richard Harte remembers when his doctors couldn't decide whether or not he had diabetes. His blood sugar or glucose numbers were borderline.

"My doctor at the time was not happy using the numbers. He said I dont think you have diabetes, so he sent me to an endocrinologist who said i did," said Dr. Harte.

The diagnosis was eventually confirmed. Now, to help interpret blood sugar levels that can fluctuate, doctors can use the Hemoglobin A1c level. It's a simple blood test that averages blood sugar levels over the previous three months.

"HbA1c in essence should gradually replace or be used in conjunction with the glucose level to diagnose diabetes or those at risk of diabetes," said Dr. Michael Bergman of the NYU Medical Center.

A hemoglobin A1C level of up to 6 percent may be normal. Levels between 6 and 6.5 percent identify those at highest risk of developing diabetes.

People with a family history of diabetes, those who are overweight or women with high blood sugar during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)or with polycystic ovaries may be at risk for diabetes even if their HbA1c levels are less than the cuttoff of 6.0 percent.

Patients who check their blood sugar measurements will benefit from using the HbA1c measurement as this test can show how their sugars have been in the previous three months.

Web Produced By: Scott Curkin


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