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New diagnostic tool for type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a disorder that is characterized by high blood glucose (blood sugar). Normal amounts of insulin are unable to produce an adequate insulin response and glucose and insulin build up in the blood stream.  This is known as insulin resistance. It is believed that this buildup is a major factor in the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.  There is not a cure for the disorder, yet increased exercise and modifications to the diet are often first steps in controlling it. If the condition worsens, medications are usually required.


In the United States, there are approximately 18 million citizens who have already been diagnosed with diabetes and millions more who don’t know they have it. A full 90% of those diagnosed are type 2. Between 1990 and 2005, the prevalence doubled prompting the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, to characterize the increase as an epidemic.  Historically, this has been a disease of adults, yet increasingly, the disease is being diagnosed in children and young adults.  Changing lifestyles and eating habits, along with increasing rates of obesity, are thought to play a very significant role.

In a press release this month, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) approved the use of a lab test, hemoglobin A1c, as an additional criterion for diagnosing type 2 diabetes.  A1c is a blood test that tells your physician how well your diabetes is being controlled. It can provide your physician with what is essentially an average of your blood sugar over the previous 6 to 12 weeks. Levels of HbA1c that are 6.5 or greater may be used as an alternate criterion for diagnosis. Additionally, the AACE Guidelines for the Management of Diabetes use an A1c of value of 6.5 or less as a goal for patients once they have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The test requires collection of a single tube of blood, and depending on the test facility, the results may be available the same day. The values are important as they are often used along with glucose monitoring by the patient to adjust treatment.

Information on type 2 diabetes.

Information on insulin resistance.

Information on hemoglobin A1c.

Information on the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
 

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