The Tethys Diabetes Risk Test (Continued)
Existing Tests for Prediabetes
I knew from my work as a marketing consultant that there were three main ways you can currently test for pre-diabetes and they all have flaws.
Fasting glucose: Specific, convenient, but not sensitive. Essentially, this means that a glucose result between 100 – 125 mg/dl puts you firmly in the prediabetes camp, but there are many people who may still have good control of fasting glucose but poor control of glucose after meals, who would not be recognized using just this test.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): Specific and sensitive, but inconvenient. In most cases a blood glucose level above 140 mg/dl will accurately let you know that you have impaired glucose tolerance. However, this test takes at least two hours to perform and possibly additional time to analyze the results.
A1c: Not specific, but sensitive and convenient. The test does not always accurately reflect glucose control particularly in recently diagnosed people. On the other hand, it is easily administered in the doctor's office and results are readily available.
Despite the various flaws in each of these tests, when used collectively, they offer a much better picture of one's glycemic control. At separate times I have had the first two tests but not the third, and was curious to know what was better about the PreDx test. My assumption was that any diabetes risk test has got to be more sensitive, specific, convenient and affordable to trump tests we have already.
I am delighted to report that the PreDx test covers all these bases with one exception – cost. It is sensitive, specific, convenient, and includes an added bonus of giving you information about your risk of developing diabetes in the next five years.
Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
In my case, the test told me that my risk for type 2 diabetes was low and I went home convinced I should focus on health improvements for a host of other reasons. I am not sure I would have paid out of pocket for this test, or even that I would foot the bill at its current pricing ($465) in five or 10 years. I would certainly take it again once insurance companies begin to cover it and the cost is diminished to the cost of my normal co-pay for lab tests.
There is a current debate over the usefulness of telling a person that they are at risk for type 2 diabetes. It is difficult to make the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes needed when faced with such a diagnosis – let alone a risk of developing it in five years. I find that knowledge provided by this test is a gift, and knowing that I can be proactive about something to which most people would have had to react should be seen as a gift as well.
But I like knowing that there is an easy way to rule out the possibility of getting an unannounced, asymptomatic and painless disease that causes long-term complications if left unmanaged. There are so many things we do NOT get to affect in our lives, that the chance to know what you're up against and tackle it early seems like a worthwhile investment. If some of my risk factors change, I will be back in their lobby, asking for another.
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