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Random blood tests could predict type 2 diabetes risk even when blood glucose is normal

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

Random blood glucose tests could help to predict whether someone is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future even if their blood glucose falls within normal range, researchers have said.

The tests could be used to help researchers provide treatment options for those at risk and reduce their risk of complications.

The study, entitled 'Random plasma glucose predicts the diagnosis of diabetes', looked at the health data of more than 942,000 people who did not have diabetes.

Over the course of a year all the participants had three random blood sugar tests carried out. Each time none of them had been notified of the test, so no fasting or prior preparation had been carried out. At the five-year follow-up, the collected data showed 94,599 people (10%) had gone on to develop type 2 diabetes.

The research team said they had been able to predict who would eventually develop the condition based on the blood test results each person had produced. If applied to the real world, this could mean people can take the necessary precautions before they develop full blown type 2 diabetes.

A large part of the findings suggested the plasma glucose measurements were a significant indicator. Those who had slightly higher levels, albeit still within the normal range, in at least two of the random blood tests over the course of a year were more likely to eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

However, the researchers said other factors such as age, sex, race, body mass index (BMI), smoking and cholesterol also significantly impacted the person's type 2 diabetes risk.

Study lead author and Atlanta Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System physician-researcher Dr Mary Rhee said: "Although screening for prediabetes and diabetes could permit earlier detection and treatment, many in the at-risk population do not receive the necessary screening.

"These findings have the potential to impact care in the VA and in the general US population 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."

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