Health Team

Non-fasting test is new standard for diabetics

Posted January 1, 2010 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2010 6:28 p.m. EST

— Many people go through health screenings that include a fasting blood test, which is used to find people at-risk for diabetes and to monitor those with the disease.

Now, a more accurate, non-fasting test – called the Hemoglobin A1c – is the new standard.

“The fasting glucose test is like a snapshot on diabetes, but the A1c is a short movie – looking at blood sugar over two to three months,” said UNC endocrinologist Dr. John Buse.

Buse says the test looks at the amount of sugar stuck to hemoglobin molecules.

“It lives inside the red blood cell, which has a lifespan of about two to three months,” he said.

The American Diabetes Association now recommends the A1c test be the standard for diabetes screening.

For diabetics, the results show a number of 6.5 or higher. In screening, a number below 5.7 is normal and between 5.7 and 6.5 is high risk.

To avoid Type 2 diabetes, a doctor might recommend diet and exercise.

“There's a good chance you can bring that A1c test down and avoid being diagnosed with diabetes,” Buse said.

Buse says about 60 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented with a low-fat, low-sugar diet and regular exercise if those people are identified early.