Sickle Cell Trait in Blacks Can Skew Diabetes Test Results
TUESDAY, Feb. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A blood test commonly used to diagnose and treat diabetes may be less accurate in black people who have the sickle cell anemia trait, a new study says.
The test is called hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C). An A1C reading of 5.7 or more indicates prediabetes or diabetes; below 5.7 is normal, says the American Diabetes Association.
But, the current study found that for blacks with a trait for sickle cell anemia, the A1C test may come back lower than it should. This discrepancy could lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, and it might also affect the management of known diabetes.
When the researchers compared the results of A1C tests to other measures that check blood sugar levels, they showed that when A1C readings were expected to be 6 percent, they only registered 5.7 percent for blacks with sickle cell trait.
"We want to make clinicians aware that things like race and hemoglobin traits can have an effect on A1C. If the A1C numbers don't jibe with blood glucose monitor numbers, this could potentially be a part of that," said Tamara Darsow.
Darsow, who wasn't involved in the study, is senior vice president of research and community programs with the American Diabetes Association.
The test measures the percentage of red blood cells that have become "glycated" over a two- to three-month period. Glycated essentially means the red blood cells have sugar attached to them. That can happen when blood sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia).
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder that affects the hemoglobin in red blood Continue reading