IVD Australia

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HbA1c at the Point of Care

Background: Type 2 Diabetes is often called a silent killer.

The lack of obvious symptoms during the early stages of the disease mean that it can go undetected for a long time. Undiagnosed and untreated diabetes increases the risk of acute and chronic health problems such as stroke, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputations. It is estimated that 1.7 million Australians have diabetes but up to half of type 2 diabetes is undiagnosed.1

The good news is that the disease is entirely manageable, often with simple changes to diet and exercise. But first it must be diagnosed and then treatment must be managed.

About the Test: HbA1c measurement is a simple blood test that is used to diagnose and manage diabetes.

The test measures average blood glucose concentration over a 2 – 3 month period. A high result indicates diabetes but the test can also identify “pre-diabetic” patients, or patients at high risk of developing diabetes. The test is also critical in the management of patients already diagnosed with diabetes to monitor disease management and guide treatment.

It has traditionally been performed by sending blood samples to pathology laboratories but it is now possible to perform the test during a doctor’s visit, or at your Diabetes clinic.

Using a small drop of blood from a fingerstick, Point-Of-Care (PoC) instruments can provide HbA1c results in a matter of minutes. Compared to earlier technology, the analytical performance of modern POC instruments is comparable to laboratory results.

Health Benefits: HbA1c at the point of care provides immediate information on a patient’s diabetic status. If a patient is identified as at high-risk or pre-diabetic it is possible to prevent the majority of cases from progressing to diabetes through lifestyle intervention.2

For patients already diagnosed with diabetes, research shows that disease management is improved when HbA1c testing is available during a clinical visit and having the test available at the point of care is beneficial, particularly for those who do not always attend follow-up visits.3,4

Financial Benefits: Type 2 diabetes is a major financial burden in Australia. The total annual cost is estimated at $6 billion, the annual cost per person without complications is $4,025 which increases greatly to $9,645 if major complications develop.5

The rapid and accessible results of HbA1c at the point of care have the potential to improve the diagnosis and management of diabetes, reducing this health cost significantly.

Website url for More Information:

http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/

http://www.alere.com/au/en/area-of-interest/diabetes.html 

References:

1AusDiab Report, 2006

2Knowler, et al. (2002) NEJM 346(6):393-403.

3Cagliero , et al. (1999) Diabetes Care. 22:17851789.

4Khunti, et al. (2006) Br J Gen Pract. 56:51-57.

5Colagiuri, et al (2003). DiabCo$t Australia: Assessing the burden of Type 2 Diabetes in Australia.