A new test in the battle to treat and manage diabetes is now available and provides a better snapshot of the rise and fall of a patient’s glucose levels.
Physicians across Wichita Falls are turning to GlycoMark, a simple blood test that measures “hidden glucose peaks” and could affect therapy regimens depending on the results. Vicki McMullen, compliance officer at Community Healthcare Center in Wichita Falls, said it doesn’t replace traditional measurements, such as a fasting blood glucose or hemoglobin A1C. Rather, it supplements other tests and provides a more specific measure during a two-week period.
“If you’ve got someone who is kind of problematic, you can zero in where their target areas are,” McMullen said. “It’s a really great tool that’s become available.”
According to glycomark.com, an A1C shows an average glucose level, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A downloadable brochure shows that two diabetic patients can have roughly the same A1C results, but the glycomark value — ranging from less than 2 to more than 14 — indicates the estimated average peak glucose. A lower number tells the physician and patient there were extreme elevations in blood sugar two hours after eating.
The American Diabetes Association suggests a blood glucose no higher than 180 two hours after a meal.
McMullen said the GlycoMark test can show physicians exactly what’s going on and make changes to a patient’s treatment.
“I think the best benefit is better control of their disease,” she said. “If they can zero in on where their problem areas are at — let’s say their blood sugar is stable but they are having some problems with their blood sugar going up and down ... this helps them zero in on those problem areas.”
Jill King, a Wichita Falls dietitian and certified diabetic educator, said severe elevations and drops in blood sugar levels are an indication of someone whose diabetes isn’t under control. She said high glucose in the blood makes the blood “syrupy” and can damage cells, kidneys, eyes, extremities, small and large vessels and much more. Most of the damage leads to other health problems. In short, consistently high glucose levels can decrease one’s life span and quality of life.
She said the new two-week picture of a diabetic’s blood sugar level is intriguing because it gives a specific reading for a specific, shortened time.
“With your hemoglobin A1C, you may have some highs, but if you have a lot of lows, it kind of counteracts what that number is,” she said, adding that it can give a false sense of glucose management because it shows the average levels over a three-month period. “With two weeks ... that’s going to be a lot more specific.”
King said the best way to monitor highs and lows is by a continuous blood glucose monitor. She said while it’s important to check blood sugar levels throughout the day, it’s more like shining a flashlight in a dark room — it will give you a little information at a specific point, but not an entire view of what’s going on.