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Health Beat: Diagnosing diabetes: It's in the blood

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 16 2013 12:09:10 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 16 2013 04:35:58 PM CST

Heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure are just some of the devastating complications of diabetes.

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. -

Heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure are just some of the devastating complications of diabetes. 

Nearly 26 million people have the disease in the United States and three times that amount are pre-diabetic and don’t know it. Now, a new test could help them before it's too late.

Diabetes is a disease Dr. Steve Edelman knows all too well.

"I got diabetes when I was 15. I was super tired. I would fall asleep in class," Edelman said.

Not everyone with diabetes, however, gets diagnosed so early. That's where a new diabetes test already in use in Europe and under development here could help.

Unlike some tests that require you to fast overnight and give you a short-term result, Dr. Beth McQuiston said the A1c blood test gives patients a picture of their blood sugar over the last three months without fasting.

"You can test patients that just showed up at your hospital, weren’t fasting, and figure out what their blood sugar looked like over time," said McQuiston, medical director, diagnostics products, Abbott.

It would allow physicians to help manage patients with diabetes.

"The biggest, most important issue is that 79 million people are pre-diabetic, walking around right now with abnormal blood sugars, and they have no idea," McQuiston said.

It's a simple test that could save your health.

"If you’re heading towards an iceberg, shouldn't you know that it’s coming so you can change your direction? Of course," McQuiston said.

Doctors said tests like the hemoglobin A1c are so important because they can help patients better monitor and manage their diabetes. Research shows that for every one percent reduction in results of hemoglobin A1c blood tests, the risk of developing eye, kidney, and nerve disease is reduced by 40 percent.