Experts are advocating for a change in the diagnosis threshold for type 2 diabetes in women under 50. The recommendation comes from a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. The study’s author, Dr. Adrian Heald, a consulting physician at East Cheshire NHS Trust in the United Kingdom, points out that menstruation can have an impact on blood sugar levels in women. The study suggests that women are less likely to receive treatment and risk-reduction interventions compared to men.
The researchers focused on the role of glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, in diagnosing type 2 diabetes in women. They theorized that the survival rate of red blood cells is shorter in menstruating women. Currently, the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is based on HbA1c levels, irrespective of age or gender. The researchers propose that a slightly lower HbA1c level might be more appropriate for diagnosing premenopausal women. They believe that the current methodology could result in missed diagnoses and lost opportunities for early intervention.
The study examined HbA1c testing across seven laboratory sites in the United Kingdom. It revealed that nearly 35,000 more women in England could be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes if the classification were changed. This would allow for the initiation of lifestyle changes and diabetes treatment, thereby improving both short-term and long-term health outcomes. The researchers also noted that women are less likely to receive medications like statins, aspirin, and beta blockers compared to men.
Dr. Caroline Messer, an endocrinologist at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who was not involved in the study, supports the idea of lowering the HbA1c threshold for premenopausal women. She believes that the study is logically and scientifically sound. However, she also warns that lowering the threshold could lead to false positives, causing unnecessary panic. Dr. Priya Jaisinghani, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health, suggests that other diagnostic tests, such as fasting blood glucose and oral glucose tolerance tests, could be used for more accurate results.
Lifestyle Choices and Medication Options
Type 2 diabetes affects over 37 million Americans. Lifestyle choices like a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial for managing the condition. Medications like metformin, DPP-4 inhibitors, and GLP-1 and dual GLP-1/GIP receptor agonists can also help control blood sugar levels.
Anne Danahy, a registered dietician and integrative nutritionist, offers tips for managing type 2 diabetes. She recommends planning meals in advance, limiting processed foods, and including high-fiber plant foods in the diet. She also suggests strength training at least three times a week. Regular meetings with a health professional can provide accountability and motivation to continue nutritional programs.
The study calls for a reevaluation of the HbA1c thresholds for diagnosing type 2 diabetes in women under 50. It emphasizes the need for timely identification and treatment to improve women’s quality of life and life expectancy. The study also highlights the importance of personalized medicine and suggests that more research may be needed to ensure that women are diagnosed and treated for diabetes in a timely manner.