Following recommendations by an international panel of experts, an improved diabetes diagnosis method may soon replace existing techniques.
The new test for diabetes, called the haemoglobin A1C, is currently being used mainly to monitor the effectiveness of diabetes treatment.
However, at a recent meeting of the American Diabetes Association, it was revealed that the A1C test is a more accurate indicator of diabetes than any of the other tests currently being used.
While the idea of the A1C test as a diagnostic tool is yet to catch on widely, some physicians have welcomed it as an effective alternative to the traditional diagnostic methods such as the FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test and OGT (oral glucose tolerance) test.
Supporters of the technique claim that the A1C test, which measures average levels of blood glucose over a 2-3 month period, presents a more accurate and reliable picture of the patients condition, than the current “snapshot” tests which only take into account the measurements of a particular day.
An additional benefit of the technique is that unlike with the FPG or the OGT, patients will no longer be required to fast before the test.
A number of primary care physicians are already using the A1C test as an initial screening tool, while others prefer to use the test together with the FPG.
The main reason for the caution surrounding the A1C test is that in the past, physicians have been concerned about the standardization of the results of A1C screenings – in other words, whether physicians agree that a particular result is indicative of diabetes.
Now, with the standardization of A1C results, both the American Diabetes Association and the International Diabetes Federation are encouraging doctors to adopt the test as a replacement of current methods.