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Diabetes Basics: What is Diabetes? | Who's at Risk? | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Complications | Other Health Issues

Diabetes Basics - Diagnosis

The only way you can be sure you have diabetes is by getting a test. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) now recommends that everyone over age 45 should have a fasting plasma glucose test. If test results are normal, the test should be repeated every three years. If you have risk factors for diabetes, you should be tested at a younger age and more often. The high risk factors include:

  • Being more than 20 percent above your ideal body weight or having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 27. The BMI is the ratio of weight in kilograms to height in meters squared. Your doctor can give you information on your BMI.

  • Calculate Your Body Mass Index.

  • Having a mother, father, brother or sister with diabetes.

  • Being African American, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander American, Hispanic, Native or Asian American.

  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs or having diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).

  • Having an HDL cholesterol level less than 35 mg/dL (HDL is the 'good' cholesterol) or trigylcerides (certain kinds of body fat) greater than 250 mg/dL.

  • Having blood pressure at or above 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

  • Having abnormal glucose levels when previously tested for diabetes.

Fasting Plasma Glucose
This is the preferred test for diabetes. To have this test, you have to fast at least eight hours or overnight. You will have a blood sample drawn and examined for glucose. Most people have a level between 70 and 110 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood. A level of 126 mg/dl or higher on two tests given on two different days confirms a diagnosis of diabetes. (Previously a level of 140 mg/dl or higher was used to diagnose diabetes, but in 1997, the guidelines were revised because by the time a person got a diagnoses of diabetes with a level of 140 mg/dl, serious damage to the body had often already occurred. By lowering the diagnostic levels to 126 mg/dl, early control of the disease can begin and risk of complications is lower.)

Random Blood Glucose Test
You don't have to fast to have this test, which is sometimes used if symptoms are present. Blood samples are taken shortly after eating or drinking. A blood glucose level of 200 mg/dl or higher points to diabetes, but it must be confirmed on another day with a fasting plasma glucose, an oral glucose tolerance test or another random blood glucose of over 200.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
For this test you have to fast at least eight hours and not have smoked or drank coffee. Your fasting plasma glucose is tested from a blood sample. After the test you will be asked to drink a sweet glucose syrup and then your glucose level will be measured from a blood sample taken two hours after you drink the liquid. There can be up to four blood samples taken to measure the blood glucose level. The American Diabetes Association expert committee recommends that this test be eliminated because it is a difficult and time-consuming test.

Glucose Challenge
This is a test your doctor may give you to see if you have gestational diabetes, diabetes developed during pregnancy. You may be given this test if you are age 25 or older, are overweight, have a close relative with diabetes or if you are Hispanic, Native American, Asian or African American or a Pacific Islander. This test is given between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. You will be given a glucose drink and if an hour later, your glucose is 140 mg/dl or higher, your doctor may suspect gestational diabetes. You may then be given an oral glucose tolerance test.

Impaired Fasting Glucose
Impaired fasting glucose is a new diagnostic category. If your blood sugar is measured between 110 and 125 mg/dL, it means you have impaired fasting glucose. This means your blood sugar is greater than normal, but less than the level of a person diagnosed with diabetes. It's thought that around 13.4 million adults, about 7 percent of the US population, have impaired fasting glucose. It's suspected that some people with impaired fasting glucose go on to develop diabetes. Talk to your doctor to see if exercise and eating a healthy diet will bring your blood sugar closer to normal.

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As the world’s top supplier of commercial blood pressure monitors and health management systems, Lifeclinic is committed to helping to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals across the globe. Active monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate, weight, body fat, body mass index (BMI) and blood oxygen levels when combined with proper diet, nutrition and physical fitness can help ensure a longer, more healthy lifestyle.

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