The Tethys Diabetes Risk Test
Is there value in knowing your diabetes risk?
By Amy Baker, diaTribe
Note from Kelly Close: The number of factors involved in type 2 diabetes makes it hard to talk about the risk of diabetes without talking about blood pressure and cholesterol in the same breath as blood glucose, LDL or HDL cholesterol, or Insulin. The PreDx Diabetes Risk Score, created by Tethys Bioscience, applies that logic to the laboratory. This test measures seven biomarkers (chemical measurements of biological processes underlying type 2 diabetes) in order to calculate a single-value risk score for developing type 2 diabetes within five years. diaTribe requested to test the PreDx test and Tethys was kind enough to offer us four free tests. People who take this test are characterized into three groups: low risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Individuals with low risk have a Diabetes Risk Score less than 4.5; those with moderate risk have a score greater than 4.5 but less than 8.0; and people with a score greater than 8.0 are considered to be at high risk. The company determined the scale for the test by following a population of people over five years and comparing their rates of diabetes with their results on the various biomarkers included in the test.
We recruited a number of long-time friends of diaTribe, including Amy D. Baker, who leads this issue's Test Drive. None of the participants had been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes at the time this article was written.
My Experience with PreDx
Thus far, adults I know who have revealed to me their type 2 diagnoses have also been found to have high blood pressure, central adiposity (that means they have extra weight around their abdomen), high body mass indices (BMIs), and other such risk factors for metabolic and heart disease. I would not have originally identified myself as at risk, but my bravado was cracked a little when a friend and I took the type 2 diabetes risk assessment published by the Finnish Diabetes Association. His score was lower than mine despite differences in BMI that I thought should have given me an edge. The fact that my father has been diagnosed with type 2 bumps me into a higher risk category, and I decided to stop leaning so hard on BMI and body shape as my leading indicators.
When diaTribe offered a select few of us a chance to take the PreDx test we jumped at it, each for our own reasons. In my case, I wanted to know if this should be higher on my list of things to worry about than it is currently. I am a professional woman in her mid forties raising a young child. Between my Blackberry and bath time there truly isn't a lot of time to spare and I have stripped my life of all clutter and extraneous activities. This includes worrying about things I don't need to. For the others, it was a combination of curiosity, age, ethnicity and awareness of the type 2 epidemic that drew them to it. One member of the group mentioned that he was nearly at the age at which his father had his first heart attack, adding that both his mother and brother had chronic high blood pressure.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...