American Diabetes Association (ADA) reported that nearly 24 million American have diabetes, which can eventually develop heart disease and kidney disease, and cause blindness and force amputations. The majority of the diabetics are of Type-2 that is linked with a lack of exercise and poor diet.
Most doctors use one of two prevailing tests to diagnose diabetes. These are fasting plasma glucose and the oral glucose tolerance test. Both tests are considered clumsy, as they require the patient to prepare either by fasting or by drinking a sugary solution.
On June 5, 2009, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital announced at a meeting in New Orleans that a simple blood test, known as A1C test, that can indicate average blood sugar levels over the past several weeks has become the best way to diagnose diabetes. The new test, which the American Diabetes Association, International Diabetes Federation and European Association for the Study of Diabetes agree, does not require fasting.
What the new test does is to measure the damage to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the stuff that makes blood red that is done by consistently high blood sugar levels. A hemoglobin A1C level of 5 percent is considered normal, while a level of 6.5 percent or higher should lead to a diagnosis of diabetes.
The A1C test needs only a small sample of blood. It is considered more convenient and easier for patients as they no longer need to perform a fasting or oral glucose tolerance test.
According to the American Diabetes Association, all adults who are overweight and have additional risk factors such as a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, should go for screening for diabetes. In fact, even people without any of these risk factors should go for the test beginning at the age of 45.