Why a key diabetes test may work differently depending on your race
This overestimate could lead a doctor to target a black patient's blood sugar levels aggressively, causing dangerously low blood sugar.
"I believe our study, for the first time, definitively shows there is a component of higher A1c that is due to biologic or genetic differences in glucose attaching to the red blood cell," said Dr. Richard Bergenstal, executive director of the International Diabetes Center in Minneapolis and lead author of the study.
The study notes that race only partially explains the hemoglobin A1c differences, and more research is needed to identify social and economic factors that may influence blood sugar levels in various groups of people.
For black patients in America, who have traditionally faced a history of barriers and disadvantages in health care, those factors might also include having limited access to care or medications.
Bergenstal offered one specific question that concerned patients could ask their doctors: "Are we depending just on the hemoglobin A1c to measure how my diabetes control is doing, or are we actually looking at the blood sugars to get a little better reflection of my blood sugars?"
He added that "the A1c, you know, is kind of an average marker, and no patient is average. One of our take-home messages is, it's probably time to be looking at blood sugars and personalizing therapy for each individual a little more than just this average blood sugar test."
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are above normal, which could cause health problems. With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not make insulin, a hormone Continue reading