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Experts Urge One Test to Diagnose Diabetes
Date:6/5/2009

A1C screen tracks blood sugar over time, with no fasting required

FRIDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- The A1C test, which measures average blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months, should now be the main tool doctors use to diagnose diabetes, an international expert panel recommended Friday.

Besides giving a more accurate picture of diabetes risk, the A1C test is easier on patients than older tests, which often required fasting.

Individuals with hemoglobin A1c values at or above 6.5 percent can be considered to have diabetes, although that number is not set in stone, the experts stated at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) annual meeting in New Orleans.

"This is the first major departure from the way that we've been diagnosing diabetes for more than 30 years, using a laboratory tool that is slightly different than the acute [short-term] measurement of glucose -- measurement of a single glucose value -- which has been traditionally used," said Dr. David Nathan, chairman of the committee and director of the diabetes center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

He spoke at a special press conference at the ADA meeting on Friday.

The committee comprised members of the ADA, the International Diabetes Federation and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, although these organizations have not yet issued position statements on the recommendations.

The ADA did, however, speak out unofficially in support of the conclusions.

"We support the conclusions of the paper that basically says that the A1c measurement is appropriate for diagnosing diabetes," said Dr. Paul Robertson, president of medicine and science for the ADA. "Right now, our focus is what comes next. What does this mean for diabetes?"

The guidelines will be referred to practice committees before an official statement is issued, he said.

The proposed diagnostic guid
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