There's a problem with the way doctors diagnose Type 2 diabetes.
The standard testing regimen to diagnose diabetes involves a blood test to gauge fasting levels of glucose, or the hemoglobin A1C test, which I've written about before. If the test shows glucose levels higher than normal, a second test is ordered to confirm the findings.
But some patients don't follow up with a second test, so they remain undiagnosed and untreated.
I remember how I was diagnosed. It was not evident from my symptoms -- to me -- that there was something wrong. It took a while for me even to consider I might have a problem, much less go to a doctor. I had no health insurance and, for me, at that time, paying for a doctor's visit was something I just wouldn't do.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, with about 7.2 million of those people unaware, because they haven't been diagnosed. And, they say, about 84 million American adults have prediabetes -- a cluster of conditions that will in time progress to diabetes.
Now researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggest that it is possible to diagnose Type 2 diabetes using a single blood sample.
I read about this on the Everyday Health website (everydayhealth.com). They examined data from a study that showed risk factors for heart disease. Data on blood glucose levels were also collected, and the researchers examined that. An analysis showed that 383 out of the 13,000 people in the study who had not been diagnosed with diabetes at the time had high blood sugar levels in their first sample. And almost all of those people eventually developed diabetes.
The researchers also looked at the development of cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease to understand whether people with elevated glucose and A1C have a higher risk of complications. They do.
The researchers concluded that the one-sample regimen offers a streamlined approach to diagnosing diabetes.
Making it easier for a doctor to inform the patient "You have this disease" sooner would help make sure the patient starts working to head off its complications.
And it could help prevention efforts, too, if an elevated glucose reading triggered closer monitoring and empowered the physician to push lifestyle changes that can turn things around.
There's a lot more research to be done. It has not been proved or disproved that you can or can't make a diagnosis on the basis of a single sample. But taking that first, too-high sample very seriously would be a step in the right direction.
SPEAKING OF BLOOD
Recently I participated in the North Little Rock Boots & Badges Blood Drive. Unlike past years, it wasn't a competition between first responders in North Little Rock and Little Rock but a battle between the North Little Rock police and fire departments, or their supporters.
Donors chose a side when signing in, but I'll not say with whom I threw in my lot. A representative of the Arkansas Blood Institute told me there were 55 successful donors, with the police department taking the win.
There will be a similar event in Little Rock from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 19 at Central Fire Station, 824 S. Chester St. Donors will receive a T-shirt and a voucher for entry to the Little Rock Zoo.
Also, there's the Hope 4 Hattie Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 28 at The Greens at North Hills, 7400 Arkansas 107 in Sherwood. Participants will receive a T-shirt and a Magic Springs pass. The drive is named for a 1-year-old child diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
For information or to register to donate, go to arkbi.org.
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ActiveStyle on 07/02/2018
Print Headline: Research: 1 blood sample shows diabetes