Despite its prevalence, in 2018, more than 20% of patients who met laboratory criteria for diabetes were unaware that they had it.
While receiving any type of chronic health diagnosis can be overwhelming for patients, being diagnosed with diabetes empowers them to control their condition effectively, make decisions that promote their wellness, and prevent potentially serious complications.
For physicians, two of the most effective tools available to diagnose and manage diabetes are the diabetic health panel and the diabetic health profile. Here’s a closer look at the valuable role each can play in your practice.
The Diabetic Health Panel
Testing for diabetes is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for all patients beginning at the age of 45, especially in individuals with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25. Testing may begin at younger ages for people with a high BMI, particularly if they exhibit additional risk factors, such as a first-degree relative with diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, or hypertension.
Physicians examine one of three criteria to confirm the presence of diabetes in their patients:
· A plasma glucose level of greater than 200 mg/dl, irrespective of the patient’s last meal, and usually coupled with symptoms of diabetes such as unexplained weight loss or excessive thirst
· Fasting plasma glucose of greater than 126 mg/dl
· Two-hour plasma glucose of greater than 200 mg/dl with a 75-g glucose beverage
While the two-hour test is the most sensitive and specific, its results are rarely reproducible. For this reason, many physicians prefer the fasting plasma glucose test.
If patients have high blood sugar but do not meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes, they are considered at risk for future diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and are therefore diagnosed with pre-diabetes. For these populations, recommending lifestyle changes such as weight loss and routine exercise can help reduce the rate of progression to diabetes.
In addition to screening for diabetes, physicians must also perform routine panels in patients diagnosed with diabetes to determine how effectively the condition is being controlled. Monitoring with an A1C and ACR test, tracking cholesterol and triglycerides, and routine blood pressure checks can help you gauge how well your patients are managing their condition.
If levels exceed expected thresholds, you may choose to order lab work at more frequent intervals, suggest a different course of treatment, and reiterate the risks of uncontrolled diabetes, including vision loss, heart disease, and nerve damage.
The Diabetes Health Profile
Developed in the mid-1990s, the Diabetes Health Profile is a comprehensive method of analysis used to measure the effects of diabetes on patients requiring insulin, including barriers to activity, psychological distress, and eating habits. By using this questionnaire in tandem with lab testing, doctors can gain more in-depth insights of the full impact of diabetes on their patients’ lives.
Based on findings, you may be able to recommend supplementary tactics to help patients manage their diabetes with greater ease, such as counseling, physical therapy, and additional forms of care.
If you’re seeking a lab to help you get accurate, timely results for your patients, turn to LifeBrite Labs. Browse through our chronic care management options or contact us for more information by calling (678) 433-0607.