A1C lab test can help in combating diabetes

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Approximately 57 million Americans are on the brink of diabetes. Yet research tells us that there is much we can do to keep it from progressing to full-blown diabetes. Lab tests can help us get a grip on the disease, says the American Clinical Laboratory Association President Alan Mertz.

"Ask your doctor about a quick and easy lab test called hemoglobin A1C (A1C). The test can tell you if you actually have diabetes or are close to developing it—a silent and serious condition called pre-diabetes," says Mertz.

Unlike other glucose tests, the A1C test does not require patients to fast before getting it.  Because it measures average blood glucose for the preceding 2-3 months, it is not affected by recent dietary changes. The American Diabetes Association recently added the A1C laboratory test to its list of tests recommended for identifying diabetes.

The fact that you don't have to fast before getting the test makes it much more convenient and consumer friendly, Mertz says. "We believe this will help consumers' willingness to get tested -- and help us battle a deadly and dangerous disease."

Some 40% of people with pre-diabetes will become fully diabetic in 3-8 years, if they don't take action. Yet this is not just a future-threat. They are already in danger: Individuals with pre-diabetes face a 50 percent greater chance of heart disease or stroke, as well as increased complications associated with kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and neurological problems.

"There is good news, though," Mertz says. The results of a clinical trial, called the Diabetes Protection Project, found that in adults with pre-diabetes, even small improvements in diet and exercise can have a dramatic impact, reducing the risk of diabetes onset by 58 percent.

"Clearly, the early warning that the A1C test provides can be significant," says Mertz.

SOURCE American Clinical Laboratory Association

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