Routine Blood check helps identification of Pre-Diabetes, saving later expence on treatments

A simpler form of testing individuals with risk factors for diabetes could improve diabetes prevention efforts by substantially increasing the number of individuals who complete testing and learn whether or not they are likely to develop diabetes.

Approximately 60 million Americans, one-third of the adult population, are pre-diabetic. Thirty percent of these individuals will create Type 2 diabetes in less than a decade, yet most don’t know they are at high risk for the disease.

A study published in the January 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that the hemoglobin A1c check, a common blood check that can be quickly administered in a physician’s office, exactly and easily identifies pre-diabetics.

“Identifying more individuals with pre-diabetes through a simple check in a physician’s office gives us a actual opportunity to halt progression to the disease, which is clearly a win-win situation,” said Dr. Ackermann.

The A1c check measures average blood glucose level over the past 8 to 12 weeks and does not require a person to return for additional testing after an overnight fast. Researchers, led by Ronald T. Ackermann, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine at the illinois University School of Medicine as well as a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist, document that the A1c blood check, which has been routinely administered to diabetic patients for plenty of years, can also pinpoint pre-diabetes.

Fasting tests, which are currently used to screen for pre-diabetes are difficult to administer primarily because they usually require one visits to the physician’s office and because patients often forget to arrive on an empty stomach when they return for the check. The A1c check can avoid both of these problems because it can be performed on a single visit, even if a person has eaten. it’s estimated that currently only 7 percent of all Americans with pre-diabetes have been tested and are aware of their status.

“If you have hypertension or heart disease, or multiple other risk factors such as obesity, are over the age of 45, had a past episode of diabetes in the coursework of pregnancy, or have a family history of the disease, your physician can administer a simple blood check which will show in the event you are pre-diabetic. in the event you are pre-diabetic, loosing as small as 10 to 15 pounds through diet and exercise can cut in half your chances of getting diabetes, greatly improving your health and lowering your require for health care,” said Dr. Ackermann, who is associate director of the Diabetes Translational Research middle at the IU School of Medicine and director of the illinois Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Community Health Engagement Program.

In 2002, the Diabetes Prevention Program, a huge clinical trial, determined that diet and exercise sharply lower the risk that a person with pre-diabetes will create diabetes. In a 2006 study Dr. Ackermann reported that it would be cost effective for Medicare to pay for diabetes prevention at age 50 than to deny prevention benefits until age 65 when plenty of individuals will have already developed the disease.

“Type 2 diabetes is growing quickly with the increasing rate of obesity and has reached epidemic proportions in this country. Identifying pre-diabetics and halting the disease could prevent millions of individuals from creating diabetes and would avert the high future costs of treating it. Lifestyle interventions in the pre-diabetic stage offer benefit not only by stopping type 2 diabetes but also by reducing cardiovascular risk factors,” said Dr. Ackermann.

“Since health plans are beginning to pay for pre-diabetes treatments, doctors now have a more compelling reason to encourage patients who’ve risk factors to complete a screening check,” said Dr. Ackermann. “The more practical A1c check could help doctors perform testing on a much larger scale than ever before.”

Since that 2006 study, medical health insurance firms have taken a much closer look at paying for structured diabetes prevention programs as a method to improve health and to help curb the runaway costs of health care. In 2010, the UnitedHealth Group, a huge nationwide medical health insurance carrier, began paying for a diabetes prevention program offered by the YMCA of america. The health plans, however, only pay for this treatment when a blood check shows pre-diabetes.

The new study, which looked at blood check results of 1750 individuals with pre-diabetes, was funded by the Centers for disease Control and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Co-authors in addition to Dr. Ackermann are Yiling J. Cheng, M.D., Ph.D., and Edward W. Gregg, Ph.D., of the CDC, and David F. Williamson, Ph.D., of Emory University.

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