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I am 41 years old and I would like your opinion on the validity of the glycohemoglobin test. Do you believe it is a necessary diagnostic tool? If so, what is a normal range for a Type 1 diabetic of 29 years?


The glycohemoglobin test is usually considered the "gold standard" to help analyze if someone's control of their diabetes is likely to decrease the risk of complications. It has clearly been shown (in the DCCT and other research studies) that the lower the glycohemoglobin, the lower the risk of complications. Usually, several glycohemoglobin determinations spread over months, or even years, are used to judge if things are improving or not.

There's really no "normal range" for this test for people with diabetes, as there's also an additional concern when setting up targets for diabetes control: the lower the glycohemoglobin, the higher the risk of severe episodes of hypoglycemia. The labs, of course, publish a "normal range" for "normal" (non-diabetic) individuals; but whether this should be extrapolated to people with diabetes is arguable. (For instance, if someone has been running a glycohemoglobin of 12 for several years, then gets it down to 9, it's still much higher than the "normal range" which is usually up to about 6 in many labs, but the research data shows that decreasing the value from 12 to 9 does a great deal of good in decreasing the risk of complications from very high to moderately high.)

You used the word "diagnostic" in your question; so far, I've discussed using the glycohemoglobin test to monitor established cases of diabetes. The information that's available so far is unclear what the place should be for the glycohemoglobin test in initially diagnosing a case of diabetes.

Also, see Glycohemoglobin and similar diabetes tests for more information.


Original posting 8 Feb 97


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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