HbA1c Can Diagnose Diabetes

July 13th, 2009 | Sources: USA Today


The glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c blood test has been approved as a legit means to diagnose diabetes.

expertpanelistmembersAn international committee of experts made the announcement at the recently concluded meeting of the American Diabetes Association.

The test is fit for use, it concluded, in people of all ages but not for pregnant women.

“This is a major departure from the way diabetes has been diagnosed in the past,” David Nathan told USAToday.

Nathan, the director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, chaired the august body which included investigators from the ADA, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

The committee based its conclusion on a review of scientific literature on the matter.

Prior to the announcement, diabetes had been diagnosed using either a fasting blood glucose or an oral glucose tolerance test. Both tests are sensitive but prone to false positive results caused by eating prior to the test and intercurrent illnesses.

In contrast, the HbA1c test assesses glucose levels over the 2-3 months prior to the stick. It is not nearly as likely to produce a false positive result, does not require that one fast prior to the test, and can be done at any time of the day.

The thing that had been preventing the test from being used as a diagnostic tool before the announcement was that influential diabetes groups had not agreed on the result that constitutes a positive diagnosis.

Nathan’s group more or less settled the matter, saying that anyone with a level of 6.5% or higher had diabetes.

The ADA itself has yet to sign off of these recommendations, however. It’ll begin its own investigation in the near future.


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