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Key Blood Sugar Test Seems to Differ By Race
Date:6/15/2010

Even when glucose values are similar, blacks have higher A1C results, study finds

TUESDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- The hemoglobin A1C test is supposed to give doctors a sense of diabetics' long-term blood sugar levels, but new research suggests the test may have different results depending on race, even if daily blood sugar levels are the same.

What's more, those differences became greater as blood sugar levels and A1C increased, according to the new analysis, which is published in the June 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"We found that those who self-identify as black, on average, had higher A1Cs than those who self-identify as white," said study author Dr. David Ziemer, an associate professor in the division of endocrinology and metabolism at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Hemoglobin is a component of red blood cells. It's the part that makes blood red, and hemoglobin's primary function is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If hemoglobin comes into contact with sugar, which is what occurs when blood sugar levels are too high, the sugar molecules attach themselves to the hemoglobin. The hemoglobin A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is combined with sugar (glycated).

A normal level is generally between 4 percent and 5.7 percent. From 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher means that you have diabetes.

However, there are certain factors that can affect A1C readings. Certain medical conditions, such as certain anemias and other conditions that can affect red blood cell counts, can cause variations in A1C readings, according to an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal.

Previous research had already found higher A1C levels in blacks, but researchers suspected it was due to other factor
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