Your guide to tests & tools to help prevent diabetes complications
There’s no doubt about it. Diabetes is serious. If poorly managed, severe complications can arise. So what can you do to take control? Be aware. Get tested regularly. Understand where you stand. This guide tells you about the tests that can provide an early indication of complications so your doctor can better target treatment. Caring for your diabetes begins with caring about your diabetes. Knowing your risks is a great place to start.
Are you at risk for complications? Here’s a checklist to help figure out where you stand. If one or more apply to you, talk with your doctor about what you can do to lower your risk.
- My hemoglobin A1c is 7.0% or higher
- My blood pressure is 130/80 or higher
- My LDL cholesterol is 100 mg/dL or higher
- I smoke
- I get less than 30 minutes of exercise most days
- I’m overweight
What These Risk Factors Can Mean
Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications including heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney disease. When you understand your risk factors, you are better able to take charge of your health. Working with your doctor, there are actions you can take, including medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to improve your health.
Diabetes raises your risk of heart and kidney disease. The tests below can provide early warnings and information that can help you and your doctor take action to control your risk of complications.
Tests for Monitoring Diabetes
- HgbA1c (or A1c) Test
Measures hemoglobin A1c and provides an estimate of your average glucose (eAG) level over the past 3 months. Once a year is not enough! The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends testing twice annually. Ask your doctor about getting a “standing order”.
- GlycoMark® Test
Measures after-meal increases in glucose over the last 1-2 weeks. Even if you have “good” A1c levels, you may have hyperglycemia, a condition that can lead to cardiovascular and other complications. If your hemoglobin A1c is 6.5-8.0%, this test provides information that your doctor can use to give instructions on reducing after-meal glucose levels, thus reducing your risk of diabetic complications.
Tests for Assessing Risk for Kidney Disease
- Microalbumin Test
Measures very small amounts of albumin in the urine. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease so it’s important to look for the early signs. This test evaluates urine for the presence of small amounts of albumin, a protein that’s not detected or is found in trace amounts when kidney function is fully intact.
- Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) Test
Provides the eGFR, an indicator of kidney function. The eGFR test indicates how well your kidneys are working. It is used to detect chronic kidney disease and to monitor the progression of the disease in response to therapy.
Tests for Assessing Cardiovascular Risk
- Total Cholesterol Test
Measures your level of cholesterol. In general, people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease. Cholesterol provides information about your risk. That’s why you need to know your numbers.
- Lipid Panel
Measures total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglycerides. Used to assess and monitor potential risk for heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III, a panel of health experts, recommends the following: 100 or less for LDL cholesterol (70 or less for those with heart disease and diabetes), 40 or more for HDL cholesterol, and 150 or less for triglycerides.
- hsCRP Test (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein)
Measures CRP, a marker of inflammation. Elevated levels of CRP predict an increased risk of heart attack, even when your lipid level goals are met.
- Additional Lipid Tests
Sonora Quest Laboratories offers Cardio IQTM advanced cardiovascular tests that help provide a more accurate and individualized picture of risk. The tests look beyond just HDL and LDL cholesterol to identify undiagnosed (or additional) risk.
These advanced cardiovascular tests, along with your lipid panel, will provide more information that you and your doctor can use to understand your complete cardiovascular health.
Print this guide and take it to your next doctor’s visit to discuss how these tests fit into your diabetes treatment.
You can find additional helpful information at:
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
National Kidney Foundation