A1C is The Best test to Diagnose Diabetes & PREdiabetes
Medical tests and their results can be confusing. But a new fact sheet from the NIH aims to help people better understand a test called the A1C, which is used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, and to monitor people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The A1C provides information about average blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar levels, over the past three months, says Dr. David Sacks of the Clinical Center Dept. of Laboratory Medicine.
The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin (usually called glycated hemoglobin), the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.To diagnose diabetes if you use glucose, the most widely used way is to measure a fasting glucose where the person has to have fasted for at least 8 hours. They can ingest no food. You can drink water but that is all. But if someone comes to the doctor but they haven’t fasted, then you can’t diagnose diabetes because you don’t have a sample.
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So if the doctor suspects the person has diabetes or wants to screen for diabetes, which is now recommended, they have to tell the person to come back the next day after fasting, which is a great inconvenience for a lot of people. Because hemoglobin A1C is not affected by short-term glucose in the blood, you can measure it any time of the day and whenever the patient arrives, regardless of the time of their last meal.
Experts hope the ease of A1C testing will encourage more people to be checked for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The A1C test is more convenient because it does not require fasting. However, the A1C test may be unreliable in some people, so check with your doctor to see if the A1C test is right for you.
The reason why it’s very important to diagnose diabetes is because if it is not treated, the people with the disease develop complications that are irreversible once they occur. But they can be prevented if the disease is controlled. Get the fact sheet and more information online at www.niddk.nih.gov. From America’s Clinical Research Hospital, this has been CLINICAL CENTER TV. In Bethesda, Maryland, I’m Ellen Crown, at the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.