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New Guidelines Urge A1C Test for Diabetes Diagnosis
Date:12/29/2009

Simple blood test may catch type 2 diabetes, prediabetes sooner, with no fasting,,,,

TUESDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- In its latest set of clinical guidelines, the American Diabetes Association is promoting a more prominent role for the hemoglobin A1C blood test in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.

Long used in the management of diabetes, the A1C blood test measures average blood sugar levels for the previous two to three months. The new guidelines call for the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes at A1C levels above 6.5 percent, and prediabetes if the A1C levels are between 5.7 and 6.4 percent.

"We've added another test that can make it easier to find out if you have diabetes," said Dr. Richard Bergenstal, president-elect of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

The new guidelines will be published in the January issue of Diabetes Care.

Bergenstal said the A1C isn't necessarily superior to other methods used to detect type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, such as fasting blood sugar tests and the oral glucose tolerance test, but it is easier and more convenient for people because you don't have to fast before an A1C test.

In the past, the A1C wasn't recommended for use in the diagnosis of diabetes because the test wasn't standardized from lab to lab, according to the ADA. That means a reading of 6.5 percent at one lab could have been 6.3 percent at another. Now, the test is highly standardized, according to the ADA, making it a useful tool for detecting diabetes and prediabetes without the need for fasting.

"I think we may diagnose more people because the A1C is used a lot more now because of its convenience," Bergenstal said.

The A1C measures the percentage of hemoglobin (the main component of red blood cells) in the blood that is glycated. Glycated hemoglobin is hemoglobin that has a blood sugar molecule attached to it, which happe
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