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People with pre-diabetes may be identified by a simple blood test

According to the study disclosed in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people can now learn whether or not they are vulnerable for type 2 diabetes by completing routine blood test. This could strengthen the disease prevention efforts, as more people with risk factors for diabetes could pass the test that identifies pre-diabetes state, and, should it be positive, make the needed lifestyle corrections to avoid the disease development. 

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute analyzed the blood test results of 1750 persons with pre-diabetes and discovered that the routine hemoglobin A1c test can accurately identify pre-diabetics. The blood test that measures average glucose level in the blood over the precedent 8 to 12 weeks has been administered to patients with diabetes for years. Now it can serve preventive goals. Its main advantage is that it can be quickly administered in a physician’s office, which would allow identify more pre-diabetics. 

Who should complete the test? People with diabetes risk factors, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, or those who combine two or more factors such as obesity, the age of 45 and older, family history of the disease, etc. Should the test identify pre-diabetes, corrections of the lifestyle and diet can be introduced to significantly decrease the risk of the disease development. The effectiveness of these measures was proved by a large clinical trial, the Diabetes Prevention Program, in 2002. Moreover, these corrections also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Tests that are presently used for pre-diabetes screening require two visits to the physician and an overnight fast before the second visit. Thus, they are more difficult to administer. 

In the US, about 60 million individuals, or each third adult, have risk factors for diabetes. Thirty percent of them will develop the disease in less than 10 years, but they are not aware of that, as only as low as 7% people with pre-diabetes are tested. Given the scale of the problem, the more effective ways of identifying pre-diabetics and a focus on the disease prevention could significantly reduce the costs of the future treatments. 

Given high costs of diabetes treatment, health insurance companies have developed plans covering pre-diabetes treatments. In its turn, it creates incentives for doctors to encourage patients with diabetes risk factors to undergo screening procedures.