A new test can predict diabetes years before a person develops the condition, a new study says. The random blood glucose test can detect risk factors normal diabetes tests usually miss, giving patients a better chance to treat the condition before it progresses, according to research published Friday in PLOS ONE.
“Although screening for prediabetes and diabetes could permit earlier detection and treatment, many in the at-risk population do not receive the necessary screening,” Mary Rhee, a researcher at Atlanta Veterans Administration Health Care System and and study lead author, said in a news release.
The study included more than 900,000 VA patients who hadn’t previously received diabetes diagnoses. Within a year, each patient took three random blood glucose tests during normal doctors visits.
About 10 percent of the patients were diagnosed with diabetes within five years after the study. Patients with a minimum of two glucose measurements of at least 115 mg/dL within 12 months were at a high risk of being diagnosed with diabetes. Those with readings of at least 130 mg/dL had an even higher likelihood of developing the condition.
Traditional diabetes tests measure fasting glucose levels. Doctors use several methods: an orally administered glucose tolerance test, which means a patient must fast and swallow a glucose load, a HgbA1c level, which averages blood glucose levels over the last two to three months, or random plasma glucose tests when symptoms of high glucose levels appear.
With the random plasma glucose test, patients don’t need to fast and can receive it at any time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 84 million Americans has diabetes.
“These findings have the potential to impact care in the VA and in the general U.S. population,” said Rhee, “as random plasma glucose levels — which are convenient, low-cost, and ‘opportunistic’ — could appropriately prompt high-yield, focused diagnostic testing and improve recognition and treatment of prediabetes and early diabetes.”