Utah Offers Low-Cost A1C Testing

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All Utahns with diabetes are encouraged to take advantage of low-cost AIC testing this month. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Diabetes Prevention and Control Program and the A1C Testing Partnership are offering the tests in recognition of American Diabetes Month.

The impact of diabetes in the U.S. and Utah is staggering. In 2006, the estimated cost (including medical costs and loss of productivity) of diabetes for people in Utah was $927 million. 2007 data suggest that more than 124,000 (4.7%) Utahns have been diagnosed with diabetes, while another 45,000 Utahns have the disease but don't know it.

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A1C – short for hemoglobin A1C – is a simple blood test that reflects an individual's average blood glucose (sugar) level over a three-month period. The test is one of the best indicators of diabetes control and maintenance, giving patients a good indication of how well their overall diabetes treatment plan is working. Physicians and diabetes educators use the results to make recommendations regarding medications and healthy lifestyle choices like nutrition and physical activity.

"Patients receive a lot of messages about diabetes and how to control their disease. We feel the need to shed light on the importance of patients knowing their own A1C levels," said Richard Bullough, PhD, Director, UDOH Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. "We're thrilled to again be part of the testing partnership and know that getting patients more involved in managing their diabetes will reduce the overall social and economic impact of the disease."

Diabetes educator Ginny Burns says persons with diabetes should check their A1C levels 2-4 times a year, but that the tests are no substitution for regular blood sugar self-checks. "Self-testing tells you your glucose level at the moment you test, A1C indicates long term control. You need both tests to give you a complete picture."

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As part of the A1C Partnership, Smith's Pharmacies offered discounted A1C tests on and around World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14. Now that this campaign has ended, please visit www.health.utah.gov/diabetes, find out more about how to address diabetes needs in Utah, and send us your questions about diabetes ("Ask Ginny"). Grant Sunada, MPH Media Liaison Utah Diabetes Prevention and Control Program Utah Department of Health