Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) is a commonly utilized test to diagnose, treat and manage diabetes. When a blood work is ordered, clinicians observe the percentage of red blood cells that have glucose (sugar) attached to the blood over a two-three month period. According to the American Diabetes Association, a normal HbA1C reading should be below 7 percent. However, a new study has demonstrated that people who are Diabetic with Sickle Cell Trait exhibit lower HbA1C levels. Such variations could result in a delay of diagnosis, treatment, and management of Diabetes. Researchers found that the results from HbA1C tests displayed lower HbA1C levels in people with Sickle Cell Trait who were Diabetic. Also, people who live with Sickle Cell Disease have blood cells that survive a mere 10 to 20 days, while those without the sickle cell normally have blood cells that live longer- 90 to 120 days.

     Due to the difference in the HbA1C reading, it was thought that persons with Sickle Cell Trait also have red blood cells with a shorter life span. The study measured more than 4,600 people, each given a HbA1C test and another fasting blood sugar test. Data for the HbA1C test was skewed (falsely low) as 29 of percent people with Sickle Cell Trait were diagnosed with pre-diabetes versus 49 percent without the trait. This questions the reliability of the HbA1C test for diagnosing and monitoring people with Sickle Cell Trait as there may be other factors that alter the results, such as the shorter lifespan of sickle cells. The HbA1C test can skew HbA1C blood sugar levels, in turn, delay Diabetes diagnosis and treatment. In such case, other more reliable tests should also be used to compare and more accurately diagnose, treat and monitor Diabetics who also carry the Sickle Cell Trait. Do you know your Sickle Cell Trait status? Make an appointment with TOVA today (cdc.gov).

                                                                 Paris Davis,BA

                                        TOVA Community Health
                               Sickle Cell Specialty Treatment Center
                                            601 New Castle Ave
                                        Wilmington, DE 19801
                                      302-655-6187 ext. 500

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